|The Lancashire Evening Post, Monday, 17th June 2002|
PRESTON'S historic business quarter is set to return to its glory days as the most desirable residential address in the city.
Prestigious Winckley Square, once a haven for the cream of society, is to gain two trendy apartment complexes.
Preston-based Rowland Homes has unveiled plans to create 40 exclusive parkside apartments in Grace House, which was once part of Winckley Square School for Girls.
Portergate Residential Developers, from Manchester, also want to transform 22 Winckley Square from offices into seven apartments.
The exclusive square is currently home to firms of solicitors and accountants, as well as celebrity chef Paul Heathcote's brassiere Now England's newest city is : to follow in the footsteps of Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds and offer trendy city centre living.
Paul Rowley, managing director of Rowland Homes, believes the developments will mark the beginning of a new trend for Preston.
He said: "I think the desire for people to want to live in the city centre has been proven in the larger cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and London."
"This concept has really taken off in those cities and is now starting to filter down to the more provincial cities and towns."
"When other developers and house hunters see the success of our scheme it will give them the desire to come into central Preston as and when properties become available for redevelopment."
"I see a definite demand for city living type developments in Preston, we have already had enquiries from lawyers and solicitors who have heard about the development on the grapevine."
Grace House, which dates back to the early 1900's will be transformed into approximately 40 one and two-bedroom up-market apartments with the possibility of a few three-bedroom penthouses.
The development includes the conversion of the original listed building at the front of Grace House, which is to include five exclusive apartments.
Subject to planning approval, development work is expected to start on Grace House in autumn 2002 and the first properties released for sale in early 2003.
Portergate's properties are being refurbished and should be on the market by Christmas.
The Making of a des res
WINCKLEY Square traces its history to gardens which were known as Town End Field.
They appeared on a map of Preston in 1774 when they were owned by an attorney, Thomas Winckley.
He sold off plots to wealthy and prominent citizens to build large town houses.
The houses did not have gardens but the Square was divided so they all had a plot of their own. Surprisingly, some of the houses had tunnels leading from their cellars to the garden plots.
Sadly, the splendid gardens became a tangled undergrowth in the years between the two World Wars. However, they were bought by the town's old corporation In 1945 and landscaped for the benefit of the public.
Nowadays, the Square is home to businesses, offices and one of the city's most prestigious restaurants, Heathcotes.
The Square has also hosted a convent, a Catholic College, a Catholic Club and a girls' school.
Preston businessman, James Todd, who died In 1931, has his last resting place In the Square.
His ashes are contained in a wall behind a simple plaque Inscribed JT 1863-1931.
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|© The Lancashire Evening Post, June 2002|