Local developer demands parity with Grosvenor’s Tithebarn

A small mixed-use scheme planned for Preston city centre could be unfairly doomed due to planning policy clashes with Grosvenor's long-awaited retail project.

Oberston Holdings, which is run by the millionaire Patel family, has applied to Preston council for a second time for permission to build a £10m mixed-use building at the junction of Shepherd Street and Rose Street.

The scheme would provide around 15,000 sq ft of office and retail space and 54 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as underground parking for 22 cars.

But the new planning application, which has been drawn up by Preston architects Cassidy & Ashton, shows the development being located next door to the site of the proposed new bus station on the corner of Manchester Road – a vital development to the Tithebarn scheme.

A larger version of the application, for 75 apartments and 32 parking spaces, was turned down in September this year after councillors found it did not comply with planning policy.

Arif Patel, whose uncle runs Oberston, criticised the way the Tithebarn plan was preventing attempts to regenerate the area. He said: "How many planning applications in the Tithebarn area have been approved in the past five years? Go and walk along this area, around the PR1 club, and look at the condition of the buildings. It's a disgrace.

"All the council's chips have been put on one number – Grosvenor. There are a lot of other numbers there too and this is one of them. Why can't they give others a chance?"

Grosvenor's Tithebarn project has so far proved a controversial scheme. In July this year, Australian developer Lend Lease teamed up with the company to bring forward the delayed regeneration of Preston's Tithebarn area.

The developer announced a 50/50 joint venture with Grosvenor on the 1.5m sq ft mixed use scheme after it struggled to secure both tenants and financial backing for the project.

The project comprises 700,000 sq ft of retail, over 20 restaurants, a multiplex cinema, 550 homes, leisure facilities and a refurbished market.

When the scheme was first aired in 2005, its completion date was 2008. It is now due to be completed in 2013. No planning application has been submitted.

Its anchor tenant did not sign up until January, when John Lewis agreed to take a 230,000 sq ft store.

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