Church Row Tower
The council's chief executive is set to determine the applications next week

Consent nears for pair of Preston apartment proposals

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

A sloped 21-storey residential scheme reminiscent of Manchester’s Urbis, and a redevelopment of a listed site criticised for its “violently different” architecture, are due to be approved in Preston.

At 5 Church Row, a proposal first submitted in 2017 has been amended and brought back to the council for a decision. The 21-storey block from developer Eastern Estates was designed by 1618 Architects, and includes 80 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

The building slopes up from two storeys to 21, leading council planners recommending the scheme for approval to liken it to Manchester’s Urbis, now home to the National Football Museum that used to be based in Preston.

The designs have been revised to reduce the height but increase the number of flats from 69.

Sitting alongside the neighbouring 16-storey Guild Tower, the tower would reach a similar height, despite having more floors.

St Josephs Image 1

The partial demolition and residential conversion of the grade two-listed St Joseph’s Orphanage has also been recommended for approval, subject to a construction contract being in place to ensure that the redevelopment of the site can take place immediately after demolition.

Czero Developments and Buttress Architects submitted the planning application last year, requesting permission to demolish some of the buildings they argued were beyond saving, and convert the remainder into apartments.

St Joseph’s Orphanage was built on Mount Street, Preston, in 1872 for Roman Catholic girls. The buildings have stood empty for more than a decade and the site has been vulnerable to vandalism and lead theft, which has resulted in water ingress and fire damage.

Investigations revealed that the historic buildings were extensively infested with dry rot and large parts of the site were too unsafe to enter. Plans to deliver residential developments at the site previously were not progressed, due to issues with viability.

According to Czero and Buttress in their application, “most of the existing buildings are beyond saving”, and bringing forward the regeneration of the site will involve the demolition of most of the major buildings, which the developer said was “a last resort in a race against time”.

Buildings from the 1930s, 1950s, and the 1872 and 1877 blocks are to be pulled down.

Council planners have accepted this as necessary and recommended the project for approval. However, an objection has been lodged from the Victorian Society, stating the council’s decision not to use compulsory purchase powers to acquire the orphanage during the decade of decline means it must “bear a large part of the responsibility for the current state of the buildings”.

In the society’s view, this lack of action “casts grave doubts on the strength of the council’s commitment to protecting its designated heritage assets”.

The objection goes on to cite the “violently different architectural style” proposed for the new-build elements. But the scheme has received a letter of support from a local resident praising the retention of the historic chapel.

Due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions around meetings, planning decisions are being made by Preston City Council chief executive Adrian Phillips, who is set to decide on the latest wave of applications next week.

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Likened to Manchester Urbis haha

By Bob

Saying this is reminiscent of Urbis is like me saying I’m reminiscent of Daniel Craig when I climb out of the bath tub..


That 21-storey scheme looks dreadful and absolutely nothing like urbis!

By Bob

Its like Urbis in the same way the Stockport Pyramid is like the Great Pyramid of Giza

By Salient

Nothing at all similar to scale or appearance of Urbis – more like the Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea!

By N/A

No 1 Deansgate`s uglier twin.

By Anonymous

the St Joseph’s Orphanage development is a joke, very little saved with a hideous new build extension bolted on like a grey parasite

By Jon P

The Victorian Society have hit the nail on the head.

By John Beck

Aggressive massing…

By North by North-West

Clearly learned nothing from the vandalism of the 1960s and 70s. How to make the country look ugly – Preston council should write a book on the abolition of beauty due to ignorance of Renaissance education. Maybe they could have a sign on the entrance to their offices that states ‘tombstone to beauty’. As for the developers… how we have bred such architectural vandals into the UK system that means planning applications put forward look like this, I don’t know. The abolition of British towns and cities is complete. These developers have never spent one minute around beauty.

By Richard

Ugly, banal and inappropriate. This sounds the death knell for any prospect that Preston might become an attractive city.

By Moomo

Granted, aspects of the St Joseph’s scheme could be better – but as the VS said, Preston City Council deserve much of the blame here.
I beg to differ with the VS on the revealing of the chapel in this scheme. Likewise, the proposed materiality – cream brick – riffs off the stonework on the chapel. The rooftop townhouses form three sides of a square (I’ve seen the planning app) and are okay. The taller block fixed on to the facade (though I understand that this has since been lowered) could have been handled a lot better – this is all where a different brick could perhaps be considered.
It’s a shame much of the Victorian buildings have had to be razed – I would have liked them to be kept, but it looks like the last chance saloon with the whole orphanage. The wayfinding (new routes) and garden squares though are an excellent proposal. Getting the impression Buttress are recycling a bit of their excellent Timekeepers Square scheme.

Mind you, this is a city that smashed a ringway road through its centre.
The Leadenhall knockoff? This is proposed to be faced with red brick – that immediately got my hopes up somewhat. Execution is definitely key here. Just as something is in a jaunty shape though, doesn’t mean it’s automatically good. Church Row though is a dump.

Too many writing on here think any skyscraper is good and must be good. You can accommodate as many people using a mansion block typology – these tend to meet the street better.