A historic building in the heart of Preston, which has lain unused for over two decades, has moved a step closer to being revitalised. City councillors have given their approval for the transformation of Amounderness House, formerly a magistrates’ court, into a combined office and retail space. The £7.4 million refurbishment plans were submitted in August and have now received the green light from Preston City Council’s planning committee.
The project involves creating a new public space within the existing courtyard, demolishing mid-20th century extensions, and replacing them with a modern, two to three-storey addition. This new frontage will serve as the entrance to the commercial space, comprising 26 offices and workspaces of various sizes to accommodate established companies and startups. Additionally, the former cells, originally part of a police station dating back to 1857, will be restored to create retail or craft spaces.
The addition of mezzanine floors in the original structure has been deemed slightly “harmful,” but the removal of existing extensions and their replacement with more sympathetic ones is seen as beneficial. The external works will be confined to the courtyard area, which will be vehicle-free under the new plans, ensuring they won’t impact the Market Square conservation area.
The renovation is considered a crucial part of the city’s effort to revitalise the Harris Quarter. The project is expected to be completed by late 2025 and will be operated by office specialists W_rkspace.
John Chesworth, the chair of Preston’s Towns Fund Strategic Board, highlighted that the scheme will stimulate business, cultural, and community activities in the city centre, showcasing Preston as an attractive place to live, work, and play. Preston City Council leader Matthew Brown also emphasised the project’s importance, as it aligns with the community wealth-building principles and will support local businesses and the economy.
Amounderness House currently stands empty Pic: Paul Swarbrick