The £100m plans to transform the centre of Prestwich - plus your thoughts on it
Developers want views from residents and businesses in Prestwich on the ideas on the table.
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Huge plans are in the works which could see the centre of Prestwich changed for good.
The £100m proposals, centred on the Longfield Centre area, are to be the subject of a ‘Spring community conversation’ organised by developers Muse, who are in partnership with Bury Council to deliver the project.
They are now working together on a vision to redevelop the centre, with new spaces planned for independent businesses, alongside a mix of homes, outdoor spaces and a new community hub focused on health and wellbeing. This week, we visited Prestwich village and asked shoppers and traders at the centre what they would like to see as part of the development of the area.
Chris Williams is business manager for Village Greens, a community run enterprise which was first opened in June 2014. The cooperative was founded by 413 members who come from Prestwich and the surrounding areas.
He said: “We are supportive of improvements and development and have been pushing for more floorspace for the business to help us grow. We are often asked by shoppers and our members out in Prestwich what exactly is happening so I hope some clarity will come from the consultations that have been recently announced.
“We have been kept informed by the council and appreciate that. One thing that does frustrate is the pace that the project is going so I’d like to see some tangible plans soon so that this crucial work can move forward.”
What do people on the streets of Prestwich think?
John O’Brien, 83, from Whitefield, said that increased leisure and food and drink was the key to ‘livening up’ the centre Prestwich. He said: “I’d like to see more hustle and bustle about the place. Encouraging restaurants, maybe a bar or two to cater for all ages would attract people in.
“I also think the open space could be improved. The water feature never seems to be on. The area could be a lot more welcoming.”
Stuart Fleming, 69, has lived nearby close to Heaton Park for the last 25 years.
He said: “Prestwich is a great place to live and it will be important to get any redevelopment right. I’ve heard there may be apartments built above the retail units.
“I’d like to see a focus on strong, independent businesses. The library is here too and I think that it’s crucial that there is space for a library within whatever they do here.”
Last June, Bury Council announced that the Longfield Suite venue, with its famous sprung dance floor, would be permanently closed. That decision came after Bury council looked to save money on civic venues which were running at a yearly loss.
For Michael McNally, 83, from Simister, the decision still upsets him. He said: “I must have been dancing there and to various functions hundreds of times over the years and I’m very sad that it’s staying shut.
“People need places to go so I hope they can find something to replace it. Folk round here deserve that.”
While the plans are still at an early stage, Muse said key ambitions for the £100m scheme included ‘creating an inclusive place that champions Prestwich’s community spirit’ with ‘sustainable buildings, walking and cycling routes and inviting public spaces’.
Muse and the council agreed to enter into a joint venture in late 2021 to drive the project forward. A timetable for the project stated that this spring will see ‘a discussion on ambition and vision’, a draft masterplan will be formed in the autumn with a consultation on plans scheduled for early 2023 before a planning application is submitted in the summer of 2023.
The first stage of the consultation is set to include a series of drop-in sessions at Prestwich Library, online Q&As for local residents and community groups, and stakeholder workshops.
David Burkinshaw, development director at Muse Developments said: “Redeveloping the Longfield Centre will help position Prestwich as one of the best places to live and visit in the North West for many years to come. This is a huge opportunity to create a vibrant new destination for Prestwich that will deliver social value for the community, and provide the flexible spaces that local and independent businesses need to thrive into the future.
“Prestwich has a strong community spirit and we want to make sure that we give residents, businesses and stakeholders plenty of opportunity to work with us on shaping the vision. We’re looking forward to kicking this off in the spring with our first community conversation.”
Coun Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury Council said: “The regeneration of our town centres is a crucial part of our strategy to make sure all areas of our borough can flourish for generations to come. This is the biggest single investment we have ever put into Prestwich as we are determined to transform the town and bring about much-needed improvement for the benefit of residents, businesses and visitors.
“We need everyone to work together to make this a success, so I urge every single person to join us in reshaping Prestwich for a bright future.”
No dates have yet been published for the drop-in sessions at the library.