The Lancashire Evening Post, Thursday, 16th June 2005
1 Billion Rebirth
REGENERATION GAME: Two new park and ride schemes, river crossing, business academy and revampted landmark By Emma Broom
A NEW river crossing, two extra park and ride sites, a training college and the revamp of one of Preston's top landmarks are included in a 1.25bn plan to transform the city.

Last night, senior councillors were made aware of the full extent of the plans just 24 hours after the authority unveiled its 800m dream to turn the city's waterways into a tourist attraction.

Regeneration bosses have come up with a blueprint, to be mostly delivered by the next Preston Guild in 2012, which would cost 1.25bn to turn into reality.

It would see retail; business, tourism and gateways undergo dramatic change, in addition to the Riverworks project revealed yesterday. However it is not yet clear who will pay for these ambitious plans and when bids for cash will be made.

Winckley Square
Last month, the Evening Post revealed how civic leaders were gearing up to make a multi-million pound bid to the North West Development Agency to help kick-start a string of exciting projects.

"Today we can reveal more-details of just what Preston could get as part of the plans.

A "prioritised action plan" shows plans to capitalise on under exploited tourism and heritage assets such as the refurbishment of Winckley Square gardens and the huge Riverworks project which would see the Dock redeveloped, a central park created between Preston and South Ribble, and a connection between the Lancaster Canal and the docklands.

Nicola Turner, city vision manager at Preston City Council, said the Winckley Square work, which would cost 1.5m, could be one of the first projects started.

She said: Its a very visible project which would make a difference in key areas. We want to do it sooner rather than later.

Plans are also in the pipeline to build two more park and ride facilities, one close to the Tickled Trout Hotel at junction 31 of the M6 and one at Garstang Road at he A6/M55 intersection.

There would also be more Quality Bus routes to provide priority access to junction 31A employment site, with work starting in 2007.

English Partnerships have recently commissioned a master plan for the ever-expanding estate between Fulwood and Ribbleton.

There are also plans for a new Penwortham A582 link road to the A583 Riversway which would cost 5m. This could involve a new road on a barrage across the Ribble.

And there could also be an employment site audit where older industrial estates would be looked at and considered for reinvestment or rationalisation.

The e-city wireless project could be extended to enable full citywide coverage.

And Preston College would be involved in the setting up of a 4m Centre of Vocational Excellence (COVE) in retail, construction and design to ensure residents have the skills to meet the employment opportunities created by Tithebarn.

Of the total to be spent, it is hoped that the first 330m can be secured and spent by 2009. Some of the more ambitious projects may take until 2021 to come to fruition.

Ms Turner, said: "What we're looking at here is a very ambitious programme of projects.

"It's a vision and a series of ambitions - it's partly for us to raise our game in where we want the city to go and to send some signals that Preston is thinking big and these are the ideas we're looking to.

"It's an action plan for the city rather than any organisation."

It is hoped that job opportunities from the' schemes will be snapped up by people from the city.

Ms Turner, said: "At the moment, Preston is a net importer of labour into the city so something's going wrong somewhere because these jobs aren't being filled by the local residents." The council and the Preston Vision Board have employed consultants GVA Grimley to draw up a Preston Economic Regeneration Strategy, which will form the framework for the city.

It will also complement the Tithebarn scheme and ensure other areas of the city are not left behind.

It is hoped any money granted by the NWDA will kick start further investment from agencies and private investors.

The council hopes to put its application through in three stages starting with a draft document next year.

The Preston Economic Regeneration Strategy will be considered by full Council on June 30.

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, June 2005