The Citizen, Thursday, 6th October, 2005
City living hits £1 million mark

Would you pay £1 million for an apartment in this historic house in the centre of Preston? The city’s first £1m des res has gone up for sale. It’s in Winckley Square, overlooking the park, and boasts a string of luxury assets, including its own library, home cinema room, gymnasium and steam room.

No 5 Winckley Square

There’s a buzz around Winckley Square at the moment.

All eyes are on the former Preston College building in the corner. It’s typical of the Georgian square, large but unassuming.

You can imagine the servants living in the basement with their own side entrance, while the family of the house ascend the wide stone steps to be welcomed by the butler.

These days, property developers, Blackthorn, which has spent three years turning it into luxury apartments, expect it to become the home of some wealthy city slickers, or even a retired millionaire who wants a city pad to compliment the country house.

Blackthorn, of Abbey village, Chorley, has already had several enquiries and is confident it will be snapped up when it goes on the market in the next two weeks.

Marketing Director, Simon Coyle, said: ”The release of this apartment has generated a lot of interest in and around the city of Preston.

“It is something new to this area and we believe the distinctive combination of the ultra contemporary interior with the traditional features of this character home will appeal to a range of people ranging from the professionals working in the commercial centre of the north, to retired couples seeking a city centre pad, and anyone who wants to live somewhere special and unique.”

The million pound pad is part of an-ongoing refurbishment of the Grade II listed building of 5 Winckley Square, built in the 1860’s for cotton trader, Thomas Miller, who employed 10,000 people during the “King Cotton” heyday.

To the back of the property, a chapel has been turned into five apartments while 5 Winckley Square and nearby 10a and 11 Winckley Street, have been converted into 17 apartments. On the same site a new building includes five additional duplex apartments.

All the properties come with secure parking and will go on sale with a £300.000-plus price tag.

But one local estate agent believes the million pound milestone has come too soon for Preston property hunters.

“There has been a steady increase in property prices since Preston was awarded city status three years ago and there was a real boost in June last year but things have levelled out now and prices are fairly steady at the moment,” said Louisa Cornah, of Oystons Estate Agency, based nearby in Winckley Street.

“But I don’t think a property on the market for a million pounds would sell in Preston. They don’t even sell for that much in One Deansgate [an apartment block] in Manchester.”

And she compared it to luxury conversions backing onto Avenham Park with their own gates and parking that would sell for between £500,000 - £600,000. “Preston might be a city but it does not have the status to back it up yet”,she added.

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© The Citizen October 2005