Hartington Courts in Broadgate under threat?

The Broadgate is Great blog is reporting that Hartington Courts in Broadgate could be under threat by a new ‘super surgery’.

The plan appears to be to combine the Fishergate Hill surgery and Ashton Doclands Medical Centre together in a site that is currently the Hartington Courts recreation area – including a bowling green, basketball and a footie kick a around.

Broadgate is Great say:

There will be another opportunity for local people to discuss this issue on Wednesday (March 4th 2009), at the PACT meeting which will take place at 6.30pm at the Gujurati Hindu Society on South Meadow Lane. If you have a view to express, make sure you get there!

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Skateparks: Just Another Sports Facility

Just Another Sport

This is a guest post from Chris Skoyles, who dropped a line to Preston Blog after seeing our post about Ashton Park being the home to a new skate park. He is on twitter @cskoyles and blogs at Adventures in Musica.

When the news was announced earlier this week of proposals to build a new skate facilities in Ashton Park, this writer was instantly reminded of his own experiences n getting new skatepark off the ground.

And whilst the following story doesn’t take place in Preston, but rather several years ago over in Wigan, I’d still like to think those experiences are just as relevant to those living near, or otherwise affected by, the development of a new skatepark in Ashton.

Several years ago, Wigan’s Leisure & Culture Trust were the first borough in the country to appoint an Extreme Sports Development Officer whose role, amongst other things, was to help build several new skatepark facilities across the borough.

After the first part was built successfully (and still remains popular amongst young people to this day), plans were put in place to develop several ‘satellite parks’ across the borough.

Not that anything could be that easy.

When a second park was planned for, funnily enough, Ashton (this one in Makerfield), local residents formed something of an ad-hoc collective to ensure that such facilities never landed in their area.

With the usual fears and stereotypes of young people prevalent in the area, those living close to the site of the proposed park were vehemently convinced that planting a youth facility on their doorstep was an open invitation to young people to invade their area; bringing with them unprecedented levels of violence, vandalism, drinking, drug taking and general nuisance.

Around this time I had been working with the Extreme Sports Development Officer and her colleagues on a number of media projects when we secured some funding to put a film together exploring the impact skateparks had on local communities in other areas.

Along with a group of young skateboarders, BMX riders and inline-skaters we worked with, we took off to shoot our film at various skateparks across the North West Coast.

Visiting places such as Barton, Southport, Liverpool and Colwyn Bay, we spoke to young skaters, local residents, council officials and other local authority figures to find out whether they had experienced the same problems in trying to develop their own extreme sports facilities.

Had those behind the developments faced the same oppositions from residents groups? Had those residents expressed the same fears about youth crime and, perhaps more importantly, were those fears justified?

Not entirely.

Yes, those same youth phobias had existed, with many people believing that whilst giving young people something positive to channel their energies into was largely a good thing, they did not want it on their doorstep.

Yet once the parks had been developed, it seems that somebody forgot to tell young people they were supposed to turn up with their bottles of cider and trash the place.

Despite one or two incidents, the young skaters who used the new parks were largely well-behaved and got on well with local residents.

With the battle over, these young people had somewhere they could go to indulge in their hobby in much the same way that swimming enthusiasts might take to the local pool or eager tennis players could head to the courts.

And why shouldn’t they? Skateboarding is, after all, Just Another Sport.

That’s the name of our little film; a film which I’ve recently discovered is far too large and awkward to fit onto Youtube in its entirety.

Not to be deterred, I’ve spent this past weekend cutting together a brief trailer which should give you some idea of what Just Another Sport is all about which you can find below.

Meanwhile, though I can’t claim to know what issues may lie at the heart of the new Ashton Park facility, if there are any residents groups out there in staunch opposition to the development of such facilities, I’d urge you to get in touch with me and ask to see a copy of this film.

There’s a whole box of Just Another Sport DVDs lying around not doing much, so if you’d like one, please give me a shout through my website, blog or on Twitter.

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment concerned by Preston’s Tithebarne development

The CABE report raises whether a bus station of any description is necessary for Preston?

The CABE report raises whether a bus station of any description is necessary for Preston

Stumbled across a report by CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), on the PrestonLancs forum, which is a letter to the developers of the Tithebarne scheme for Preston city centre.

In the letter they raise concerns that the new development does not seem to have had enough thought put into how it will stitch together the old and new parts of the city, that a new bus station may be uneccesary (in fact that a bus station of any description may be unnecessary) and that the new architecture has too much of a ‘1960s monolithic feel to it’.

The summary of the document states:

We welcome the efforts to bring this part of Preston back to life and we think that the general strategies, in terms of quantum and size, are sound. The care that the design team has shown in analysing the existing city fabric in Preston is impressive.

However, we have doubts that the nature of redevelopment on this scale is capable of realising the rich potential of this analysis. While the demolition of the existing bus station, which is an important example of post-war architecture in Britain, allows the restructuring of a large part of the city centre, it also sets a high benchmark for new architectural quality. Any replacement must be able to stand the test of time in order to prevent the fate of its predecessor.

We urge the team to address the issues raised in this letter, particularly with regard to connections through the proposed development and to the areas to the north and east, the introduction of large urban blocks and the design of the new bus station.

It will be interesting to see if the developers or Preston City Council makes any official response to the issues raised by CABE.

What do you think of the report? Do you agree with it? Do you disagree with it? Let us know below!

Central Area Forum report: Flag Market redevelopment

preston's flag market is set for redevelppment

preston's flag market is set for redevelopment

On Thursday 29th January 2009 the Central Area Forum of Preston City Council met to allow the public a chance to see all the designs for Preston’s historic Flag Market in detail.

Scale models of the six designs had been produced, along with boards showing the designs and explaining the rationale behind them. There was also a scale model of the current Flag Market layout.

The Central Area Forum covers the St George’s, University, Town Centre, Moor Park, Riversway and Tulketh wards.

The presentation on the Flag Market redevelopment was made by Mike Brogan, Assistant Director (City Projects). He was the man who made the recommendations to the City Centre Committee and produced the report about the Flag Market redevelopment.

Brogan outlined the reason for the proposed redevelopment. The Flag Market is supposed to be the historic centre of Preston but due to the development of the city in the 1960s it has lost its place as the ‘centre’ due to the movement of people away from the Flag Market and towards Friargate/Fishergate instead.

He showed the assembled public and councillors through the six designs, their positives and negatives and gave a lot of background about how a redeveloped Flag Market would sit alongside the Tithebarne redevelopment.

The key development will be the levelling of the slope on the current Flag Market. This slope causes problems for running events on the space and brings extra costs to the Council and those wishing to host events as they have to find ways to level off things like ice rinks/ferris wheels/fountains etc.

Brogan is also keen to see the removal of the trees and street clutter leading from Friargate up to the Flag Market as this restricts the view of the Harris Museum. This is an excellent idea as the Harris is an impressive building and easily Preston’s best looking building and at the moment it’s hidden when you walk up from Friargate.

the moving fountain on preston's flag market was a popular choice of event with the public

the moving fountain on preston's flag market was a popular choice of event with the public

There was also some outline of the sort of events that would take place with the public consultation revealing that the movable fountain in the summer of 2006 was the most memorable and successful use of the space in the public’s mind. This was an excellent use of the space, it was fun, free and excellent for everyone all ages – plus much needed in the sweltering heat!

The obelisk that currently stands at the Cheapside/Harris end of the Flag Market would be moved back to its intended position at the head of Friargate as you approach the Flag Market. Brogan showed how the obelisk had moved three/four times already (and had even been in someone’s garden for 100 years before being recovered by the Council!) and that historic records showed its original place was where the winning design planned to move it to.

There were some questions from the public. One lady asked about why there weren’t more steps included in the plans, and why we should need to worry about steps – as in her day people just walked up and down them without any bother. Brogan explained that due to DDA compliance the space had to be accessible to those with disabilities and also in today’s litigous climate the chances of someone slipping/tripping and suing the council was high.

Another member of the public asked whether the wall in front of the Harris Museum could be removed and a better entrance created into the Harris. Brogan explained that due to the Harris being a listed building there was a very limited amount of work that could be done, but that the winning Flag Market design allowed for incorporation of creating a new entrance into the Harris building.

The next steps in the plans – as the Council wants to get them completed before 2012 – is to negotiate further with the developers and suggest tweaks to the winning design, particularly the electronic banners that a lot of people seem unkeen on, including councillors. There is potential funding available for the redevelopment from the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the Council needs to move quickly to secure the funding.

Find out more about the Central Area Forum

Save Preston Bus Station

This is a guest post by Andrew Pye, who is running a Save Preston Bus Station campaign via Facebook. If you’d like to write a guest post for Preston Blog check out how you can get involved.

Preston bus station

Preston Bus Station

Hello,

Recently I had a story printed in the LEP and I want to know your thoughts on it.

I just want everyone to know that I am not against the regeneration of Preston at all – there is a lot of it that I think should be knocked down, like St. Johns Centre. The Bus Station is too big for what Preston needs, maybe they could continue to use the back half of it, maybe it could be converted into a big John Lewis? I don’t know? I know idiots hang around in there, I know it smells like piss and “shake and vac” mixed together – it is dropping to bits, but I can’t help but love it. Once over it was the symbol of the future, with its white tiles and rubber floors and seats that were too high and small to sit on. Now it is a symbol of the past- our past and they want to take it away. It just doesn’t feel right!

And have you all noticed that all of Preston Buses now have the Stagecoach logo on them?

Sad isn’t it?

Please give me your support via the Facebook group