The Lancashire Evening Post, Wednesday, 2nd December 2009
Hundreds object to square's revamp plans By Emma Broom, Chief Reporter
More than 1,000 people have bombarded planners with objections to the proposed revamp of Preston's Winckley Square. The outpouring of opposition is one of the largest to any planning application made to the Town Hall.

And today the last official day for people to have their say one campaigner said council bosses should "think again" before going ahead with the 3m design which includes a 36-jet water fountain, a granite staircase and a 10-metre-high totem pole.

Aidan Turner-Bishop, chairman of the Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust, which has questioned the legality of the plans, said: "That's a clear expression of public concern about the proposed plans for Winckley Square and we hope the planning committee really takes note of what the people of Preston really think.

"I hope they will think again because they still haven't resolved the issue of consent by the other owners and the landlord."

Members of the council's planning committee will make a decision on the masterplan which includes the loss of 22 of the 127 trees and the removal of cast iron railings early in the New Year.

The Civic Trust launched a campaign last month asking the public to rail against the redevelopment and had 6,000 proforma objections printed.

Mr Turner-Bishop said: "I've had people stopping me in the street asking for extra postcards and even doing photocopies.

"It's just sort of grown and grown, and people have gone out of their way to get the postcards.

"People have been ringing me and emailing me.

"Lots and lots of people who went to the boys and girls schools (in Winckley Square) have very fond memories of the square.

"Perhaps it's time to pause and see if there's a fresh way forward which would make everybody happy and attract funding."

He said the trustees of the square had sent a letter of objection and an e-mail had even been sent from Florida opposing the plans.

Senior planning officer Phil Cousins said it was the highest number of representations he had dealt with.

He said: "I don't know if it's the record, but it's the most I've ever dealt with.

"They're still coming in we get quite a few every day. Most of them are the individually-signed cards but we've also had letters."

He said the final total would be revealed in a report to the council's planning committee when it meets on January 11.

In addition, a total of 59 people made written comments on the design during a consultation last year and dozens more made comments during a stormy meeting at the Town Hall.

Plans to suspend metal letters from trees and to build a stage in the Georgian square were thrown out after public pressure.

But trust secretary Milly Tyson, who said the plans were "ill-conceived", said she was afraid the plans would be "pushed through".

She said: "I want it to be restored to its 19th Century glory. "We don't want a reconstruction.

"All the fountains the people of Preston are going to be left with the bill for maintaining them."

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, December 2009