|The Lancashire Evening Post, Tuesday, 19th February 2008|
The Jewel in Prestonís crown is to sparkle again.
Winckley Square, once home to the town's richest residents, is to get a makeover costing up to £3m.
A 64-jet water fountain - which doubles as a stage when turned off - will be the centrepiece of the redeveloped square, along with granite walkways, fibre optic lighting, sculptures and metal artwork.
Today, a leading history expert said she was "horrified" by the plans for the 19th Century square.
Meanwhile, workers and business people said they were pleased something was finally being done to improve the area.
The Evening Post has previously highlighted how the square has become a rubbish dump, with vandalised picnic tables and overturned benches. It is now hoped cash from the North West Development Agency (NWDA) will allow the transformation to take place.
But Linda Barton, archivist at the Preston Historical Society, said: "The thought there's going to be fibre optics and water jets on there is beyond comprehension and I'm quite horrified really.
"I'm not against change but it does have to be in keeping.
"They've already spoilt some of it by taking down some of the very old buildings and the thought they might be ruining the aesthetics of the square needs to be considered again."
Others welcomed the news that Cooper Partnership, a Bristol-based consultancy, had come up with the winning design in a bid to breathe new life into the square.
Councillor Ken Cole, who represents the town centre ward, said it could become a "perfect" location for couples to have their wedding photographs taken.
In total, five designers submitted proposals before a decision was taken by judges Preston Council, Preston Vision Board, the NWDA and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.
Councillor Anthony Gornall, cabinet member for regeneration, said: "We were blown away by the quality of the winning design."
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|© The Lancashire Evening Post, February 2008|