Central Lancashire stands ready to welcome many more companies, with infrastructure investments helping boost economic growth and transform the region as a place to live, work and do business.
More than 120 delegates braved the weather for Place North West’s Invest in Central Lancashire event at Preston North End’s Deepdale stadium, with the event sponsored by the Preston, South Ribble & Lancashire City Deal and the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership.
See below for slides + gallery
Key figures from across the region spoke throughout the morning with presentations from Jim Carter, chairman of the City Deal and Karen Hirst, managing director at Maple Grove.
Carter and Hirst were joined for panel discussions on the region’s future prospects by Cllr Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council and LEP board director; Lorraine Norris, chief executive at Preston City Council; Heather McManus, chief executive, South Ribble Borough Council; Lawrence Kenwright, chairman of Signature Living; Charles Quick, professor of public art practice at the University of Central Lancashire; Tom Roberts, senior transport planner at Mott MacDonald; Caroline Baker, director at Cushman & Wakefield; Stephen Proudley, head of retail at Lambert Smith Hampton; Jon Thorne, partner at B8 Real Estate; and Ben Scandrett, surveyor at Brookhouse Group.
Carter began the day with an update on the £434m City Deal partnership between Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Homes England, while also launching the new Invest Central Lancashire prospectus.
- City Deal will accelerate growth in the local economy by an additional £1bn over 10 years, with 1m sq ft of employment space, 20,000 jobs and 17,000 new homes, Carter explained. “That is over and above what we would have expected to see in the region,” he added
- He said the first three years of the deal had seen more than 11,000 new jobs and 3,000 homes delivered with £50m invested in public and private sector capital
- Carter predicted strong growth would continue, pointing to the £200m investment in the University of Central Lancashire, the £50m redevelopment of the markets in Preston’s Harris Quarter and the UK’s newest advanced engineering and manufacturing site at the 123-acre Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone
- Political parties across the region were “putting their differences aside” for the sake of the deal, according to Carter. “There’s nothing better to unite people than driving something forward economically,” he said. “Jobs, growth, education and skills really shouldn’t be political”
Power of partnership
Driver and Norris joined Carter for the first panel discussion of the day focusing on the major economic challenges of the region and the impact of the City Deal.
- Driver said transport investment was essential for growth. “You can’t have the development without the infrastructure,” he said, pointing to the new Broughton Bypass and the £180m Preston Western Distributor and East-West Link Road, adding that many of the City Deal’s housing plans were linked to these schemes being delivered
- Norris told delegates partnership working across the region could help Lancashire replicate the success achieved through collaborative working in Greater Manchester. She added the region was focused on attracting “highly skilled, highly paid” jobs in advanced manufacturing with firms likely to be attracted by BAE Systems’ base at Samlesbury
- Carter said the region could benefit from rising office prices in central Manchester. “We can work with major employers so they have a shop window in Manchester and more of the day-to-day machinery in Preston, Burnley or Blackburn,” he said. He added he will be “pushing hard” for another Ribble crossing on the Western side of Preston as part of future plans for the region
The second panel discussion of the day featured Kenwright, Quick, Chesworth, Roberts and Baker with the panel members turning their attention to some of the major investment plans for the city of Preston.
- Kenwright outlined plans to bring Liverpool-based hotel firm Signature Living to Preston. The company is currently creating its first hotel at the Old Post Office with Kenwright saying: “Preston offers huge value. I don’t want to stop at one hotel, I want three or four.” He added that the firm’s online “peer-to-peer” marketing approach would help promote Preston to new audiences
- Cushman & Wakefield’s Baker said the city had been “inundated” with interest following the launch of the City Living strategy last year, which aims to bring investment and “a new type of living offer” to Preston. She added plans could see redundant offices and other building converted into homes.
- Roberts said Mott MacDonald had been appointed by City Deal partners to develop a “bold and ambitious” 20-year vision for transport in Preston that will make the city less dependant on car travel. He said: “We want a city centre that is accessible for jobs and retail, but we can’t create a city centre that is solely focused on cars as that affects the offer we need for our City Living strategy”
- Quick told delegates about his In Certain Places project, which encourages artists to get more involved in regeneration schemes in the city. He said Preston needed to “think more strategically” about taking its cultural offer “to the next level” so it can attract and retain more highly skilled workers
- Chesworth said Preston boasts a “fantastic educational offer that delivers quality talent”, but needed to find a way to stop young people from being drawn to work in Manchester city centre. More investment was needed in Preston’s offer outside of work hours he said
- There needed to be clearer pathways for SME businesses to get involved in the increasing number development projects in Preston, Chesworth felt
Hirst updated delegates on the newly rebranded Lancashire Central site at Cuerden, South Ribble, which is being delivered by a partnership between Eric Wright Group’s Maple Grove Developments, Brookhouse Group, South Ribble and Lancashire County Council.
- Hirst said the 160-acre site was the largest single location being delivered through the City Deal and would provide 80,000 sq ft of industrial space, 26,000 sq ft of office space, 4,500 jobs and up to 210 homes, with Ikea already committed as an anchor tenant
- The site will account for around a quarter of City Deal outputs adding more than £241m to the economy each year, Hirst explained.
- Plans for the site were unanimously approved in September 2017, with infrastructure works getting underway in April. Work on the first phase of the retail development is due to start in spring 2019 and open by summer 2020
The final panel of the day saw Hirst joined by McManus, Proudley, Thorne and Scandrett to discuss progress at Lancashire Central, and South Ribble’s role in the City Deal.
- McManus said South Ribble would be delivering 8,000 of the homes in the City Deal alongside the Lancashire Central project. She stressed the importance of engaging both the business and wider community on plans to grow the local economy. “We need to create spaces where the communities who can deliver this growth can thrive,” she said. A new Apprenticeship Factory will be established in South Ribble to link local people with jobs
- Scandrett emphasised the importance of establishing Lancashire Central as a business destination: “Placemaking is going to be key to the success of the site.” He added that the quality of the open space at the site would be important to employers to ensure staff had an attractive environment to work in
- Thorne said the logistics and warehouse offer at Lancashire Central site needed to compete on a regional level with Omega in Warrington and Logistics North in Bolton, and appeal to online and general retailers. “We also know there’s a limited amount of available space locally,” he added, “So we want to create a place where occupiers can grow”
- Proudley said despite volatility in the market retailers were looking to Lancashire Central for “regional flagship” stores to complement their existence presence. “For the right location and the right offer there’s still incredible demand,” he added. Proudley said the site would bring back spend to the region that is currently being lost to Gemini Park in Warrington or the Trafford Centre
- Lancashire Central development would not have happened without City Deal, according to Hirst. “Being able to cover the infrastructure costs and spend money before you’ve earned it is the only way to attract businesses in and grow the economy,” she said
To view the presentations from the morning visit Place North West’s Slideshare here
Click any image below to launch gallery