Monday, 26 May 2014

This is a large site between Avenham Lane and Church St in Preston. It's a significant area due to the amount of open spaces that can be spotted within a mile radius. Church St and its environs are at the heart of a project I focussed on for my MA studies. This particular site once belonged to EH Booths and then was put aside after demolition and ultimately neglect. Plans being plans take forever especially when existing businesses are involved.



The changes that are due are taking their time since the developers and interested parties involved want to close small local shops in order to 'fill gaps' (ie, the grotty wastelands and small businesses that hinder progress in favour for the proposed supermarket - that will need the entire area to develop a flow towards its own centre).  Since looking at the project in 2010 the complicated case continues to today (May 2014). I interviewed small businesses in the area and they all said the same thing. The Council developers had 'no idea', they wanted leading developers to take over and they also wanted the area completely changed to favour larger developers, instead of including existing shops: basically they wanted to capitalise on the whole zone rather than modify a working community where regeneration was desperately needed. The near by iconic bus station was also connected to these plans. they were going to demolish that, move it elsewhere and dissolve the current routes etc, but that plan dissolved - that's when the Council got in flap and fluster...

Once the enormous John Lewis pulled out of the doomed 'Tithebarn Project', the major sponsors basically said to leading Councillors 'you don't really know what you want do you - I'm out'.

The new plan supermarket WILL be built. But at the moment this ghostland continues to be...




Fylde Rd, Preston. Wasteland for many years.
this image was taken 2010/11.











Same spot taken May 2014. Colour, vibrancy and wilderness is often a welcome sign!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Glover's Court Preston...

This space was part of the yard area adjoining the Lambert Brother's Printing company (closed for many years). Its been like this since then until suddenly...surprise - a car park! I often wondered what would happen to it but secretly knew of the impending cliche. It was just a case of when (2012).

Not very far away from here are many uncertain spaces (Church Street being the big but of ignored ones) and of course the Bus Station, a great expanse of unknowing waiting to happen (see some photos www.johnrobertson-noborders.blogspot.co.uk/, and more on flickr, that relate to these issues).

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

CHURCH STREET 2012
CHURCH STREET c.1990s

A brief retrospect on Church Street, Preston

Sometimes you have to work from memory alone. From what I remember of Church St in Preston in the early 1980s was that it was very run down. There was a second hand music shop (which I bought a bass guitar from to start a punk band!); a pet shop (when this closed down in '83, the Youth Opportunity Programme - YOPs, which included myself, took 2-3wks painting it.) There was a closed down Iron & Wire cutters merchants (built in 1851) that still stands today and features in some of the photographs that involve these neglected spaces.

Action Records record shop (still there today) moved into the area in 1981, there were hotels, 4 pubs, a coin collector, Frank Clarke's army and navy surplus store, a very old church, several jewellers...It was very low key, not funky or arty, it was a very working corner of town. The flaking paint, the sooted brick and the broken glass were real enough.

In terms of today 'regeneration' is a redundant term for areas like this. It means nothing. Awkward spatial problems like Church Street will not be solved by a clear and sudden flow of capital. Growth isn't just a term that should reflect financial gain. This part of town/city is a serious reminder that what's needed is something much more organic and cultural, it should be nurtured and supported with commitment. The Northern Quarter in Manchester is a prime example.

Several buildings had been left to fall into disrepair so that eventually they were condemned and demolished. The Real McCoy was a 'burger bar' for post clubbers in the 80/90s. When it closed it was left to rot. Twenty years later a new block of generic and faceless quick-builds that are swooping the inner city networks, was thrown up. A clean and shining start to the millennium. It became the new city PAD (Preston Art & Design) gallery...a hub for artists and crafts people in the heart of the 'regeneration'. It served the creative community well. The idea to locate it next door to where I bought a bass guitar, which I'd completely forgotten about, was a strange joy. Unfortunately, this new project funded by the Council only lasted 3-4 years; it moved to an old post office building in the city centre...and very quickly died. The fact that it closed down in the centre is sad in itself. But apart from pulling money from the arts, the government were basically, sealing off that area of Church Street, an area that desperately needed something.




Locked gates

Locked gates

Bridge at Vernon's

Bridge at Vernon's

Percy St, Preston

Percy St, Preston
Once: a social club

Church St tiled walls

Church St tiled walls

Wasteland

Wasteland