The Lancashire Evening Post, Thursday, 29th May 2008
City park revamp may never happen By David Coates
Square "has 30 owners"
THE rebirth of Preston's historic Winckley Square park may never happen because of a legal wrangle with its 30 owners, it was claimed today.

Aiden Turner-Bishop, chairman of Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust, said he believes the 3m scheme would "never see the light of day" because it would require the permission of so many different parties to get the green light.

A senior officer at Preston Council today admitted it had already started untangling the legal web despite not anticipating work to start on the scheme until late 2009 at the earliest.

The news comes a day after retired architect Keith Scott, a member of the panel which picked - the winner of the competition to redesign the park, claimed the idea had "missed the point" by failing to properly connect the city centre with Avenham and Miller Parks.

Mr Turner-Bishop said: "Preston Council Yesterday owns part of the square but under the deeds of an agreement from 1951 they are required to keep the character of the square as a garden, so chopping down a quarter of the trees is out of the question.

"The land appears to be in the hands of so many different people, because each of the 30 original houses around the square each owns part of the square. The whole thing will get bogged down in such problems over ownership."

Preston Council's city vision manager Mike Brogan admitted there were still "ownership issues" the authority's legal officers were dealing with, and admitted that these needed to be resolved before work could start.

He said plans would go on show at a public exhibition next month.

Mr Brogan said: "The problem is Winckley Square was never designed as a park; it was private gardens for all the houses around the square, so these issues need to be resolved before we can progress.

The Cooper Partnership, the Bristol-based design consultancy which landed a 5,000 prize for winning the competition, is now working on detailed plans for the scheme.

It is expected the designs will be completed by the end of the year when the council will start to seek the 3m of funding needed for the work.

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, May 2008