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Preston's Levelling Up Bid

4 August 2022

Proposed sports hub pavilion at Ashton Park

Preston's Levelling Up Fund Bid (LUF) - 'Active Preston: Transforming our Community Infrastructure'.

To support the city's economic growth, as well as improving the health and well-being of residents, Preston City Council have applied to the government's Levelling Up Fund in Round 2.  

The Council's LUF project directly contributes to Preston's City Investment Plan (CIP) ambitions for a healthier, more inclusive, liveable and sustainably connected city and their preferred LUF project was agreed at the Council's Cabinet on 20 April 2022.

They have been working up the bid over the last few months and have submitted it by the 2 August deadline. If their bid is successful, the funds will deliver a range of improvements to four major City parks, deliver safer and healthier streets and more walking and cycling routes, including a Mobility Hub at Preston Bus Station and new River Ribble bridge as a replacement of the Old Tram Bridge. 

Their project will bring real quality of life, health and well-being benefits to its residents and have positive impacts for communities across Preston and beyond.

They have engaged with and gained the support of some of the key city stakeholders and national and local interest groups and responded to calls from the community about what they see as the priorities in preparing their bid. 

About the Levelling Up Fund

The government's Levelling Up agenda is designed to improve opportunities for people across the UK by: 

  • boosting productivity, pay, jobs and living standards by growing the private sector, especially in those places where they are lagging 
  • spreading opportunities and improving public services, especially in those places where they are weakest 
  • restoring a sense of community, local pride and belonging, especially in those places where they have been lost 
  • empowering local leaders and communities, especially in those places lacking local agency

For more information about the government's plans for levelling up visit the Levelling Up Campaign.

The Levelling Up Fund is designed to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK. The £4.8 billion fund will support a range of schemes across the UK. Preston City Council is a priority 'category 1' and can submit a bid based on three themes, transport, regeneration and culture. 

Further details can be found by visiting GOV.UK - Levelling Up Fund Round 2.

Preston's bid 

Preston City Council's bid proposals are focused on supporting the city's growth recovery through high impact, visible projects and creating a liveable, healthy, sustainably connected city which brings real quality of life benefits to its local communities. It will create a more sustainable attractive and greener city which will support the growth of the city and its neighbouring boroughs within the Central Lancashire region.

Bid themes

Their funding bid for Preston focus on two themes that, when delivered in a joined-up way, will bring many benefits. The themes for our bid are:

  • Transport - investment in new and enhanced works to improve the active travel infrastructure in our city
  • Cultural - Investment in our four major city parks 

If Preston's bid is successful, they could secure around £20 million of LUF funding, which (coupled with match funding), would deliver a range of complementary projects that, when linked together, would significantly improve the quality of life and opportunities for people in Preston.

They have identified a match funding package to support their LUF bid. This funding has been identified from various sources, including the City Council, third parties and Lancashire County Council.

Lancashire County Council has provided its full support to their bid and allocated in principle £1 million of match funding from its Levelling Up Investment Fund.

Active Travel 
Proposed LUF funded improvement works to Friargate South

New active travel infrastructure, including major public realm works and a new bridge link over the River Ribble.

Their proposed active travel improvements will provide a coherent network of safer, greener walking and cycling connections linking residential, educational and employment areas, parks, city centre and neighbouring districts. It will improve linkages to the UClan campus and to key employment areas, such as the City Centre, Lancashire Central and via the Guild Wheel / A59 to the proposed National Cyber Force Centre HQ at Samlesbury.

The improvements will complete the gaps in our network to help people to walk or cycle for local trips, such as going to work, college, leisure or the shop. The proposals include:

  • physical improvements to routes to make them safer, greener and more user friendly. This includes segregated cycling and major public realm works at Friargate South and segregated routes along Queen Street/Avenham Lane
  • building a new cycle / footbridge over the River Ribble to replace the Old Tram Bridge
  • building a new mobility hub to provide a secure cycling facility at Preston bus station

Parks Regeneration 

A cross city project focusing on the regeneration and improvement of their four major city parks - Waverley Park, Moor Park and Ashton Park and Grange Park.

The proposals involve the delivery of new, higher quality and more accessible sports /community facilities and pitches, pavilions, public realm and heritage safety and infrastructure improvements.

The improvements to their parks through the provision of new leisure, play and sports facilities will help people stay active and healthy, as well as make them more attractive quality places, improving the well-being of communities and inspiring a sense of local pride.

The protection and upgrading of Preston's four major parks focuses on the following key interventions:

  • Ashton Park - The major re-design and renewal of this 32 ha park, to deliver a major community sports hub with a new sports pavilion, 3G sports pitch and several adult and junior football pitches, with associated landscaping.
  • Moor Park (Grade ll* listed) - A range of heritage and public realm improvements including lake restoration/ remediation and bridge works, together with visitor facilities representing a second phase of work. The first phase was funded from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
  • Waverley Park - A range of sports, visitor/community facilities and access improvements
  • Grange Park - Accessibility and lighting improvements to support the re-opening of a building to support community use

For other key investment and development projects taking place in and around Preston visit Invest Preston - key projects, strategies and plans.

Image captions:

First image - visual of proposed LUF funded improvement works to Friargate South
Second image - proposed sports hub pavilion at Ashton Park

Active Preston Transforming our Community Infrastructure brochure