Preston Tithebarn ‘has been approved’

Speculation is mounting that Lend Lease's £700m retail-led scheme will be officially approved by Government in the coming days.

An announcement is scheduled for Wednesday 24 November but sources claim it is already a done deal.

Preston City Council said "this is media speculation and the council has not received any official confirmation from the Department for Communities and Local Government that any decision has been made on Tithebarn."

Among those confident the decision has been taken to approve thje 1.5m sq ft development, opposed by Blackburn and Blackpool councils, is Frank McKenna, chairman of Downtown in Business, who writes in his blog on Place today "…the decision to give the green light…can now leave nobody in any doubt as to where the heart of Lancashire has to be in the future.

"The investment will not happen overnight of course. Existing economic circumstances mean that a project that was planned to be delivered over a period of three to five years may well now take ten to twelve."

Lend Lease had been intending to deliver Tithebarn in a joint venture with Grosvenor. However, the Duke of Westminster's property company withdrew in 2009 and Lend Lease decided to carry on alone.

The public inquiry into the proposals finished in June 2010. The scheme would be anchored by John Lewis and Marks & Spencer department stores along with further retail units, restaurants, a cinema, office space, 400 residential units and 2,700 car park spaces across a 36-acre site. The scheme includes the refurbishment of historic market buildings, public realm works and a new bus facility.

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