Council leader pledges to “kick-start” city centre redevelopment
The leader of Preston City Council has pledged to try and “kick-start development” in the centre of the city.
Cllr Peter Rankin, answering questions on a live Q&A session with Blog Preston readers, said redeveloping Preston’s markets and getting more retailers into the city were the key to economic recovery.
Cllr Rankin, in response to a question from Keeley Lund asking whether any parts of the failed Tithebarn project could still go ahead, said: “I am trying to kick-start development in the city centre. In our Your City, Your Say consultation, many young people said that what was needed was a city centre cinema and mid-range restaurants.
“That’s what we want to try and get off the ground in the markets quarter, together with a redeveloped market.
“Retail throughout the UK is going through very difficult times and large scale retail development is very unlikely in Preston for the next few years.”
Readers also challenged Cllr Rankin on the future of the Bus Station, with some saying it must be saved “at all costs.”
Cllr Rankin said: “Save the bus station at all costs? What if there aren’t any buses calling at the bus station? And at all costs? Really at all costs? Where is all the money going to come from for this?”
The topic of regenerating the city centre was top of everyone’s questions, and a leftfield suggestion from Dexter got an interesting response from Cllr Rankin.
Dexter said: “If the city centre model is dead [for various reasons] why not knock down large parts of what can best be described as run down areas and create some open spaces and parks ? Lets face it there are some parts of the centre that are a complete eyesore.
“It is a good years years behind Liverpool and Manchester. You can argue these don’t create jobs, I understand this but the centre isn’t our city high point at the moment is it?”
In response Cllr Rankin said: “Dexter – surely you don’t mean the bus station………? There some run-down areas e.g. Church Street and I think you make a good point. Unfortunately the Council owns mainly listed buildings e.g. old Post Office, Amoundeness House etc. It would cost us a lot to buy properties – even run-down properties.”
A final question asked Cllr Rankin about one of his favourite topics, and one he has blogged for Blog Preston about, finding a use for the old Post Office building.
He said: “It’s a beautiful building but the inside is a real mess and it would cost millions to convert to offices, hotel etc. However we will shortly be marketing it again.”
Cllr Rankin said the live Q&A had been an “interesting experience” and we hope we’ll have the chance for readers to quiz him again.
You can replay the whole Q&A in the window below, just hit the replay button.
If you’ve got any comments on Cllr Rankin’s repsonses, post them in the comments below.