Plans in for long-awaited Preston Youth Zone

After nearly a decade of stop-and-start, Preston looks set to receive a facility aimed at providing activities and employability training for young people.

Youth charity OnSide has submitted a planning application to Preston City Council for the three-storey building, to sit on the corner of Crooked Lane and Tithebarn Street.

Facing Preston Bus Station, the 30,900 sq ft Preston Youth Zone would offer members the ability to participate in 20 different activities every night for the cost of 50p visit and a £5 annual membership.

Preston Youth Zone is being funded in part by £4.2m from Preston’s successful bid to the government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund. Additional financial support is to be procured by the private sector, grant funding bodies, and charitable trusts.

John Puttick Associates is the architect of the youth zone. The project team also includes Walker Sime, Ramboll, Hurstwood Environmental, SK Transport Planning, and Clarke Banks.

Plans for a Preston youth zone were first proposed by Lancashire County Council in 2013. At the time, the facility was set to be built off Bow Lane by County Hall. The location was moved a year later to a site by the bus station – the same site as the current planning application.

Plans for a youth zone were then submitted in July 2016 and approved later that year. At the time the project had a £13m price tag.

Two years later, risings costs and an inability to find an operator caused the county council to withdraw the project. The decision was made at a cabinet meeting in August 2018.

With the successful Towns Fund bid and OnSide signing on as operator, those two issues behind the old project have been resolved.

Adam Poyner, head of property and construction for OnSide, said the charity was pleased to submit its application for the youth zone.

“This is a very exciting milestone for all the project partners involved and, most importantly, for the young people of Preston,” Poyner said.

John Chesworth, executive chairman of Harrison Drury Solicitors and chair of the Preston Towns Fund Board, said: “Preston Youth Zone is one of the key projects within the Towns Fund investment programme, which is focussing on the regeneration of the Harris Quarter.

“Not only will it have a physical impact, but its social and economic value will also be key,” Chesworth continued. “As with other similar Youth Zones in Lancashire, we have seen their tremendous impact in engaging young people and helping them reach their potential. It’ll be an important asset and much-needed facility for the city.”