Doors open on Preston Tithebarn consultation

Grosvenor and Lend Lease's joint venture released a new image of its long-awaited plans and confirmed talks with more pre-let anchor tenants as it began public consultation.

A new information centre, pictured, where visitors can view the plans for the £700m regeneration project opened on Saturday on Lancaster Road.

At a press conference held to mark the opening of the consultation period, Anthony Gill, retail projects director at Grosvenor, confirmed that both a second department store and a cinema operator had been identified.

Gill declined to name either the retailer or the operator but rumours have suggested a Tesco Extra or a relocated Marks & Spencer, and the Vue cinema chain.

John Lewis has already signed up as the first anchor name at the scheme, taking a 230,000 sq ft store. An announcement on further pre-lets is expected in the next few weeks.

Preston Tithebarn information centreThe information centre details plans for the 1.5m sq ft project and opened just hours after the Patel family lost a public inquiry appealing against the council's rejection of its Oberston Holdings apartment and office complex at the junction of Shepherd Street and Rose Street.

The £10m scheme had previously been rejected twice on the grounds that it did not conform to council planning policy and was considered prejudicial to the £750m Tithebarn Regeneration Project. The proposed new city bus station site covers part of the area on which the Patels want to build the complex.

A different set of plans put forward by the Patels for a £100m mixed use Guild Legacy Building on the old city centre Tradex site – land which has been earmarked as a multi-storey car park to serve the John Lewis store – is looking less and less likely to come to fruition, despite their belief that both projects can go ahead.

Commenting on the Patels' plans, Gill said: "Individual owners within our red line can do what they like – we have no control over them.

"The council's planning policy is to achieve this comprehensive scheme and it will refuse planning applications within that red line.

"The Rose Street/Shepherd Street appeal has been refused. There is an indication there of the will of the council, that it has been refused.

"In parallel with the compulsory purchase order process, we are having private treaty negotiations to reach a solution. We are under a duty to try and reach a settlement against the backdrop of the CPO. It makes sense where parties can agree to try.

"There are ongoing discussions with the Patels. It doesn't make any difference to us whether it is private treaty we reach with the Patels or by CPO. If we can reach an agreement then that is a good thing, but there is no way that they can do what they are planning. Those schemes can't work together. What they can do is invest in the city outside the red line."

The Tithebarn scheme is currently facing further opposition in the form of two neighbouring Lancashire towns who have lodged objections to the plans.

Both Blackpool council and Blackburn with Darwen council have objected to Preston council's draft supplementary planning guidance on the grounds that the Tithebarn project is too large and goes against regional planning policy.

Gill said: "Potentially this could be an obstacle for us but if this scheme doesn't happen here it won't happen anywhere else in Lancashire and we would like people to understand that. This is providing a local alternative to Manchester and Liverpool.

As well as the two anchor stores and multi-screen cinema, the scheme will include more than 100 retail units, over 20 restaurants and cafes, over 400 residential apartments and a new and relocated bus station.

The information centre will be open until June 11, and a planning application will be submitted in the autumn.

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