A major milestone in creating a Preston Youth Zone has been reached after Preston City Council agreed to provide land in a key city centre location for the development.

The site, adjacent to the Bus Station, off Lord Street, meets key locational criteria for successful Youth Zones, by providing a prominent but neutral location which is easily accessible by public transport and is an adequate size for the proposed development. The matter was agreed by councillors at full council on Thursday, December 9.

National charity OnSide, which has a network of 14 similar Youth Zones across the UK, has been working with local Preston partners for a number of years to develop a Youth Zone in Preston, successfully submitting a proposal that was accepted as part of the Preston Towns Fund Bid that was accepted by Government earlier this year.

The aim of Preston Youth Zone is to create a state-of-the-art place for young people in the city to provide skills, career and employment advice and provide them with the opportunity to discover new passions, make friends and thrive in an environment that is inclusive, welcoming and exciting.

State-of-the art facilities will include a four-court sports hall, 3G outdoor kick pitch, a gym, boxing and martial arts room, as well as a music room with a built in recording studio, arts and crafts area, climbing wall, dance studio, sensory room, teaching kitchen and rooms to deliver projects in areas such as Enterprise and Employability.

The city centre Youth Zone, which will be run as an independent charity within the national OnSide Network, aims to support around 4,000 young people, and will create 70 permanent jobs, including 35 full time equivalent positions.

Preston Youth Zone is one of six major projects included within the Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme. This significant regeneration programme, which focuses on the delivery of culture, leisure, residential, infrastructure, community and education through regeneration within the city centre, is part of the overall Preston City Investment Plan.

While part of the Youth Zone’s initial funding will come from the Towns Fund, OnSide will fundraise for the remaining building costs and running costs from a range of trusts, grants, private sector and philanthropic contributions.

John Chesworth, Chair of the Preston City Towns Fund Board said: “The land approval from Preston City Council and continued partnership with OnSide is the crucial next step to creating a much needed Youth Zone in Preston, which is an important project within the Towns Fund Investment Programme.

“It is vital that Preston has the ability to support the city’s young people, provide them with a safe space, deliver skills and advice as well as creating more jobs and volunteer roles within the city centre. We will work closely with OnSide and our partners to ensure this great space is created for Preston.”

Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council said added: “The Youth Zone is a high priority for our city, and I am proud that the City Council is able to step in and provide the land needed, in a good location, to enable this exciting project to move forward.

“This project will support Preston’s young people, provide access to positive things to do in their community will not only improve their health and wellbeing and drive aspirations for adulthood but also support community cohesion and a vibrant Preston City centre.

“While this is an essential next step, we continue to look to Lancashire County Council for much-needed support for the on-going revenue costs of the Youth Zone.”

Guy Topping, Chair of the Preston Youth Zone Committee, said: “This is a really exciting milestone for Preston Youth Zone. We have been passionate about delivering this for several years now – it will be a place that the city’s young people deserve.

“I want to thank all involved with the Towns Fund Bid and at the Council who have got us to this stage, and urge everyone in Preston to get behind the project.”

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