Michael Cavannagh sums up the feeling felt by many people during this latest lockdown. “You can’t work on a kitchen table for the rest of your life,” he points out.


A Georgian square in the heart of Preston, developed as an exclusive residential area for the gentry more than 200 years ago, is again becoming one of the city’s most prestigious addresses.

Winckley Square is seeing a number of its buildings being returned to residential use after decades at the heart of the city’s business district.

  director of commercial property experts Trevor Dawson, is also seeing in other parts of Lancashire.

 stock in our town centres the trend seems to be to convert it back into residential. It is bringing people into the town centre.”

In other areas in East Lancashire, old mills are being considered for residential use. It is all part of the ‘city living’ movement that looks to be gathering pace across the county.

On Winckley Square, local developer The Walker & Williams Group has completed the renovation of a Grade-II listed property which is now home to 15 high-quality apartments.

A £5.94m GDV project, The One Winckley Square development is now complete with the majority of properties sold.

Operations director Max Williams says: “We have really raised the bar and believe this is the most desirable address in the city. We’ve been very lucky to have a great mix of investors and owner occupiers with the split around 30/70 respectively.”

Architecture, design and masterplanning practice Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP),  has overseen the renovation work.

It is now set to begin the conversion of another listed Georgian property on Winckley Street, which adjoins the square, for the same developer.

Once completed, this £2.78m GDV project  residential apartments. The properties will be retained and rented out to young working professionals.

Brent Clayton, partner at FWP, says: “The transformation of this historic part of Preston is seeing some stunning buildings being renovated and returned to their original residential use, breathing new life into the square.”

John Chesworth

There may also be growing opportunities to transform retail properties into residential as the high street undergoes its transformation. It is a prospect that was raised by Boris  lockdown at the end of last month.

Danny Pinkus, partner at commercial property consultants Robert Pinkus and Company, says Preston is seeing a number  properties that will help attract people into the city.

He says: “City living is now starting to emerge, with some really impressive offers.”

When it comes to breathing new life into historic areas, Preston is also home to the Stoneygate masterplan, looking to deliver 1,600-home urban village in the heart of the city.

The 15-year framework will include bringing back into use a number of empty and derelict buildings, including the former Horrocks Mill.

 board chairman, says: “Stoneygate is something that gives the opportunity for city living to be driven not just by apartments.

“There has been a lot of positive support for the concept, however the city council has been open about this. They can produce a masterplan and provide a planning framework but it going to need the private sector to come in and build out.”

The director of East Lancashire-based commercial property agents Trevor Dawson believes that attitude is what is driving  seen during the latest lockdown.

He cites other reasons why SME-sized professional businesses are looking at their accommodation needs as they consider the  need to be able to train their young employees.

 businesses are generally looking for better accommodation, adding: “They want something that is more modern, more open plan.”

 based property agent Whiteacres, says the 

However, he fears a negative impact once the government ends the furlough support scheme.

He says: “I suspect more people will work  future and companies may not need their 

“My personal opinion, however, is that we  and support colleagues. To collaborate, communicate and generate new ideas is all done better in a face-to-face environment.”

In some parts of Lancashire there also remains 

I suspect more people will work from home

Danny Pinkus, partner at commercial property consultants Robert Pinkus and Company, points out Preston’s lack of Grade A accommodation when compared to neighbouring Blackpool and Blackburn. It is a situation, which he describes as “a travesty.”

The vision of a ‘Station Gateway’ – a new business district near the city’s main line railway station – could help solve that, if it gets off the drawing board.

 Deal board, remains optimistic, especially if Preston gets a link to the HS2 high-speed rail network.

He points to the city’s geographical location halfway between Edinburgh and London and adds: “It would be a great space for a middle of UK headquarters for a large service provider.”




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