This is the vision for a ‘cafe quarter’ as part of a new £23m hotel right in the heart of Preston city centre.
The retail space beneath the new Premier Inn at the junction of Fox Street and Corporation Street will be filled by a restaurant and cafe alongside another major shop.
It has also been revealed that Garstang-based construction group Marcus Worthington Properties is to build a new 55-bedroom block of student flats as part of the second phase of development for the site.
That will include another 10,000 sq ft of shop space and accommodation for a further 275 rooms as an extension to Preston’s growing student village.
City leaders said they believed the hotel will be be followed by high-quality office development in the area.
Eliot Ward, chief executive of the Preston Vision Board, said: “The plan has always been for this area to be developed with Grade A offices and I see this scheme as being complementary to that.
“Opposite this site we have a scheme for a hotel and a 13-storey office block from McAleer and Rushe, which has planning permission and they are keen to get started but is lacking a tenant.
“We are looking at ways we can work to help them get that going and I am sure that once one of these schemes gets started, a lot more will follow.”
Premier Inn has said the hotel scheme will be completed by November after starting work on the site last October.
The development has been dogged by problems in recent months with a metal girder from the building site crashing through the roof of a neighbouring estate agents and workmen hitting an electricity cable which knocked out power from traffic lights at the nearby junction.
But Preston Council leader Ken Hudson described the development as “a vote of confidence” in the future of the city centre which has been in limbo over the stalled £700m Tithebarn regeneration plan.
He said: “What this shows is that there is a lot more to Preston than just Tithebarn, whether it is retail, leisure or office development and we are talking to a lot of people about similar schemes.”
A spokesman for developer Kubik has said it has received an “excellent” level of inquiries for the leisure and retail units and the company marketing is seeking a balance of leisure and retail occupiers.
Steve Perrett, of surveyors Cheetham and Mortimer, said: “It is the Starbucks-type of operation we would be looking to get in alongside a prominent retailer.”
John Bates, head of acquisition for Premier Inn’s parent group Whitbread Hotels, said that only an agreement with Marcus Worthington, developer Kubik and itself had come up with the cash to pay for it.
He said: “This is an example of three parties coming together to ensure that an exciting and much-needed scheme can progress despite the recession.
“The result is a scheme which many other would not have been able to bring to the market.”
Russ Worthington, director of Marcus Worthington Properties Ltd, said: “Because we are both developer and contractor we can aggressively compete with others in the market and act as a catalyst for development, facilitating deals like this one.”