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Planning application approved for £7.4 million refurbishment of former magistrates court into offices and retail space

3 November 2023

Preston City Council's plans to transform the Grade II Listed former magistrates court have been approved.

Amounderness House will undergo a £7.4 million refurbishment and is one of six major projects planned under Preston's Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme, for which the City was awarded £20.9m from the Government's national Towns Fund initiative in March 2021.

Harris Quarter is a unique area of Preston undergoing a £200m investment programme to transform its historic buildings, sites and public realm into a diverse culture, leisure and employment offering, with Amounderness House located beside the £45m Animate cinema and leisure complex, which is under construction and due to open in Spring 2025.

The refurbishment of Amounderness House, originally built in 1857 as a police station with several holding cells, will be transformed into a high-quality modern, flexible, multi-use workspace hub that Wrkspace will operate.

Designed by FWP Architects, the sympathetic refurbishment of the Grade II listed building will create 26 offices circa 645 sq. ft and four craft or retail studios. In addition, the existing courtyard will be updated and open for public use.

Maple Grove Developments is working with Preston City Council and Wrkspace as Project/Development Manager to deliver the project.

Chair of Preston's Towns Fund Strategic Board, John Chesworth,said: 

"It's fantastic to see this magnificent building being brought back into use as it will help stimulate business, cultural, and community uses in Preston city centre. We are making significant progress in regenerating the Harris Quarter and seeing a ripple effect of interest in what Preston is achieving as an attractive place to live, work and play."

Leader of Preston City Council, Cllr Matthew Brown, added:

"On the back of this excellent news we can transform Amounderness House and capitalise on this asset being in public ownership and using it to support growing local businesses. Furthermore, in line with our Community Wealth Building principles we're working with Preston-based Wrkspace to run this important heritage asset as it helps to boost our economy."

Nik Puttnam, senior development manager with Maple Grove Developments, added:

"Bringing new purpose to older buildings like Amounderness House is rewarding and we're looking forward to making a start on the transformation of this superb historic building. Renovating listed buildings comes with its challenges, especially one that has been vacant for so long, but when complete it will complement other projects in the Harris Quarter and be an economic driver for the city centre ."

Rizwan Seth, managing director of Wrkspace, concluded:

"The Wrkspace teamare looking forward to welcoming Amounderness House into our flexible office space portfolio. The addition of a high quality city centre provision, compliments the existing business centre offering across the North West. Amounderness House will be a beacon for growth for new and existing businesses within Preston, encouraging flexible work space provisions as the ever changing working requirements evolve".

Smith & Love Planning Consultants submitted the application on behalf of Preston City Council and the wider project team for Amounderness House includes Cowburn-Watson Box, SCP Transport, Eden Heritage, E3P, TRP Consulting, and Graham Schofield Associates.

Further information

Towns Fund - Town Deals

On 27 July 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the Towns Fund would support an initial 101 places across England to develop Town Deal proposals, to drive economic regeneration and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth. See further details of the announcement.

Preston's City Investment Plan is a 15-year vision for Preston, setting out Preston's long-term objectives and strategy to transform the City, targeting resources and aligning public and private sector investments to respond to needs and capitalise on opportunities for positive change.

Preston City Council actively applies and prioritises the principles of Community Wealth Building wherever applicable and appropriate. Community Wealth Building is an approach which aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone.

Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme

Projects included in Preston's £200 million Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme are:

  • Animate - £45m multi-use entertainment and leisure complex anchored by a state-of-the-art cinema and bowling venue next to Preston Markets
  • Educate Preston -The creation of a new Careers and Employment, Information, Advice and Guidance Hub in the Harris Quarter.
  • Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets - Investment to support the redevelopment of publicly-owned buildings in the Harris Quarter to support new cultural and community uses, including Amounderness House.
  • Illuminate and Integrate -  A project to deliver improved pedestrian and cycleway infrastructure, street lighting and other public realm improvements within the Harris Quarter.
  • Preston Youth Zone - The development of Preston Youth Zone as a state-of-the-art facility for young people in Preston aged eight to 19.
  • #HarrisYourPlace - The refurbishment of the Grade I listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library, enhancing and protecting the building for future generations.
  • Preston Pop Ups - £1m pop-up programme of events bringing together new temporary event space, artworks and improvements to public realm infrastructure, aimed at boosting visitor activity in the Harris Quarter.