Report says Preston needs more retail and leisure space

A new study, undertaken by Deloitte LLP on behalf of Preston City Council, has shown that the city centre should still expand its shopping and leisure offer over the next 15 years despite the ongoing difficult economic conditions.

Taking into account growth in internet trading, the study advises that new modern, shopping spaces should be provided in the city centre in the future. Although existing vacant premises should mostly meet any short term requirements, there is still a need to provide more suitable premises in the longer term to attract new major high street brands and restaurants, who are currently looking for opportunities in the region.

The assessment of leisure needs shows Preston could also support a further 8 cinema screens and almost 30,000 more health club and gym membership places by 2027.

A survey of towns and cities, based on the presence of national retailers * found that Preston is ranked 60th in the country and is behind only Manchester and Liverpool centres in the North West.

Ongoing regeneration projects in the city centre, such as Fishergate Central, will continue to improve Preston’s attractiveness to retailers and leisure operators. Other significant retail projects in the pipeline such as the Markets Quarter and Queen Street will deliver some of the new commercial city centre space required. And City Deal, if given the green light, will provide thousands more new homes bringing more people into the city centre seeking retail and leisure activities.

Councillor John Swindells, cabinet member for planning and regulation, said of the report:

“The council welcomes the findings in this report. It is pleasing to find it supports the ongoing regeneration work in Preston and it gives us a new focus for our continued efforts in attracting businesses and developers into the city.

“Driving up footfall into the city centre and improving the leisure and night time economy for residents, workers and visitors are two of our main priorities that will help to maintain Preston as the principal commercial centre serving Lancashire.”

The study, along with the recently published Hotel Needs Assessment, will be used to inform the emerging Preston City Centre Plan which will be subject to public consultation later in the Autumn.