Harris Institute Building CGI, The Harris Investment Group, c Studio John Bridge

The Harris Institute Building is one the list of at-risk heritage structures from Historic England - but new plans could see the facility getting the repairs it needs. Credit: Studio John Bridge Architects

Preston’s Harris Institute refurb moves a step closer

Plans to bring the heritage asset off Avenham Lane back to life have been lodged with the city council.

Owners of the grade two star-listed building, The Harris Investment Group, want to transform it into a coworking and exhibition space with an art shop, a gallery, and conference and café facilities.

They are applying to change the use of the building which includes converting Regent House into nine holiday lets with a courtyard and improved access.

The plans have been brought forward after public consultation late last year.

Originally opened in 1849, the building was funded by benefactor Edmund Robert Harris.

He stipulated it should be used for educational purposes. Its original title was the Preston Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.

It became the Harris School of Art and later the Darul Aloom Islamic Institution. But the Institute is currently on Historic England’s At Risk Register and has been empty for almost 10 years.

The owners say they are engaging with Historic England and looking at opportunities to source funding bids in support of the restoration of the building.

Studio John Bridge Architects is leading the project with Gately Smithers Purlow Heritage Specialists. Eden Planning has been appointed for consultancy, and cost analysis is being provided by The QS Company.

Also on the project team are ERAP and Peninsular Acoustics.

John Bridge, the architect for the scheme, said: “We were delighted with the response to our public consultation last year and recognise that there is a significant amount of interest across the City in the building’s restoration.

“As a Prestonian myself, I’m proud to be working with The Harris Investment Group on this exciting project.

“The site in its current form is very much a blank canvas and we are still open to new and fresh ideas about the building’s future. We look forward to the application being considered by Preston City Council.”

To view the plans, search for reference number 06/2024/0489 Preston City Council’s planning portal.

The listed building consent application can also be found by searching for reference number 06/2024/0490 on the same portal.

The owners are also looking for potential future occupiers for the site to honour the building’s legacy and would welcome a discussion with interested parties.

Those interested should email John Bridge at: john@studiojohnbridge.co.uk

Click any image to launch the gallery of CGI’s of proposed changes to The Harris Institute Building. All images from Studio John Bridge Architects.

Your Comments

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It’s a Grade Ii* building. Not Grade II.

By Anonymous

    You are correct, this has been amended.

    By Rory Sheehan

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