The Lancashire Evening Post, Wednesday, 11th November 2009
Group campaigns against 'cheap' square plans By Matthew Squires
Conservation campaigners in Lancashire went on the offensive to have "cheap and kitschy" plans to revamp Winckley Square thrown out. Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust will this weekend launch a campaign to get the public to rail against the 3m redevelopment.

The Trust agrees the square needs restoration work but says current plans are "cheap, kitsch-y and unsympathetic."

The proposal by Bristol-based Cooper Partnership the winners of a design competition includes a granite staircase from the Winckley Street entrance, a 10 metre-high totem pole and a 36-jet water fountain.

Now the Trust plans to have hundreds of pro-forma objections printed up which they hope to hand out to Prestonians in the city centre this weekend.

It is hoped the forms will encourage members of the public to object to the plan before a 21-day deadline for representations expires later this month.

Trust chairman Aidan Turner-Bishop said: "We want Winckley Square to look nice. They should restore it like they have done with Avenham Park.

"The plans are just mental really. While people want something done, they don't want it to look a right mess, but this thing...

"I have looked at the plans for the totem pole and bits of it are made of plastic. That won't last 20 years. "We want it to be a classic square like they have in Bristol or London."

Millie Tyson, of Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust, said the trust is to submit its own four page objection to the scheme.

She said: "We think it is cheap, kitch-y and unsympathetic to neighbouring Georgian and Victorian housing, particularly the totem pole."

The objection calls the scheme into question because of "clear protective conditions" attached to an 1854 lease and 1954 agreement which say the "existing character" of the square must be protected.

It adds: "We are concerned that the details of legal ownership and deeds attached to Winckley Square were not included in the original competition design brief and indeed in this application."

The objection goes on to accuse the council of a "lack of sensible consultation" with the square's landlord and other "crucial stakeholders".

"Winckley Square is not a public square as it has been described," it adds. "They are private owned gardens leased by the landlord under strict conditions." Plans to revamp Winckley Square are expected to be considered by Preston Council's planning committee before the end of the year.

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, November 2009