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People of Preston series: Julie Palmer, Preston City Council

18 June 2024

Next in our series of People of Preston, getting to know individuals that are helping to transform the city, is Preston City Council's Julie Palmer.

What is your job role at Preston City Council, and what kind of activities might you do daily?

I'm a Regeneration Manager at Preston City Council, playing a leading role in the City's transformational growth. I carry out various activities related to delivering the city's regeneration programmes, primarily Levelling Up, Towns Fund and the City Living Strategy.

More recently, I worked with a team to secure funding for the Levelling Up programme, where we secured 20 million pounds of funding from central government.

My main work focus currently is the Towns Fund and Levelling Up programmes. I oversee and coordinate the programme and manage some of its active travel projects, such as the Tram Bridge replacement and the Friargate South project in the city centre.

In practice, this involves daily liaising with management consultants' project teams, negotiating and dealing with legal agreements, agreeing on the details of the scheme, carrying out stakeholder consultation, and having meetings with the various project teams and contractors.

I'm also involved in the wider city growth agenda, putting in place regeneration and development frameworks and plans for the city and supporting their implementation. I set out what the opportunities are locally and liaise with developers and investors who are interested in coming to Preston City.

More recently, I've been supporting the implementation of the new Preston 2035 Plan. This is a city regeneration plan until 2035, which sets out key priorities that the City Council and its partners will focus on over the next decade or so.

A key project I'm involved in is one of our flagship regeneration schemes: delivering a new entertainment, leisure and restaurant complex within the Harris Quarter, costing more than 45 million pounds. Animate Preston will be a transformational project that will deliver a cultural first within the city. This project is in its final stages of development and will reach practical completion later this year.

I'm also working on transformational projects like the Amounderness House Project, involving a major conversion of an historic building into an office- work space as well as a public realm scheme that will improve the environment within the Harris Quarter, contributing to the creation of a strong cultural destination in Preston.

What advice could you offer to young people, particularly young women, who are considering a career in planning?

I am a Chartered Town Planner who has worked in the regeneration and development field for over 30 years. There isn't a predominance of women in the construction and development sector. I think it's significantly improved over the last few decades, but we still have a long way to go to encourage more women into the planning and development world. This sector offers a really exciting career - both challenging and complex - but overall, very rewarding.

Anyone entering this profession must be a strong team player and get used to working across a whole spectrum of disciplines. Young women who are interested in working in regeneration, planning, development management, or even building control spheres, will find a career that is highly rewarding and satisfying.By working in the development field you are making a positive difference to the built environment and places, as well as improving our communities.

You're also a Preston Towns Fund Strategic Board member. Which developments do you feel will contribute most to Preston's growth and encourage visitors to the city? 

There's so much going on right now with  the City is undergoing a renaissance! Several key flagship developments will make a massive contribution to creating a strong cultural offer within Preston, supporting growth, and bringing visitors into the city. Those are really centred around the Animate entertainment complex, as well as the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, which again will open its doors in 2025 following a major multimillion-pound in-depth refurbishment project.

Both offerings will greatly contribute to creating a cultural destination. However, they're also complemented by other projects under the Town's Fund investment programme, which improves historic buildings like Amounderness House—a vacant building—as well as a range of public realm improvements.

We also have another site, which Onside is bringing forward to create a new Youth Zone and work has started on site. This will also have a significant impact on the Harris Quarter and the city centre, encouraging visitors.

One of the City's strategic priorities as set out in Preston 35 is to expand and diversify the housing supply to boost city centre living. How will this be tackled?

One of Preston City Council's key plans within the city is the City Living Strategy, which sets out our vision to bring new housing and apartment living into the city and support jobs along with the vitality of the city centre.

This award-winning City Living Strategy identifies a wide range of brownfield sites in the city centre that can be developed by private sector developers and registered providers.

We've made big inroads regarding implementing that on a number of sites that have been built on or others that are in the pipeline and have been brought forward.

As part of that City Living Strategy, we will also focus on the Stoneygate area, where we have strong ambitions to create an urban village. This urban village will be a mixed-use, predominantly housing area that would really transform that part of the city centre and bring much-needed new housing, diversifying the housing supply across Preston.

The Preston Station Quarter also offers a substantial opportunity for delivering new apartment living, complementing the vertical plans to create commercial and office space and delivering place making benefits.