Preston redevelopment put on hold as anchor tenant John Lewis pulls out

Lend Lease’s £700m retail-led Tithebarn  scheme in Preston is to go back to the drawing board following the decision by anchor tenant John Lewis to pull out of the project.

The council said the scheme, designed by architect BDP, is “no longer financially viable and will not now be going ahead in its current form.”

Councillor Peter Rankin, Leader of Preston City Council, said: “The large scale comprehensive Tithebarn scheme, that received planning permission as originally proposed, is financially unviable. The world has simply changed and we have to move on and be realistic about what can be achieved.

“Our aim though is to still re-generate the Tithebarn area of the city. Our development partner Lend Lease is working with us to rethink the proposals for Preston city centre, and together we are exploring how best to achieve the city’s ambitions.”

Lend Lease is sole developer of the scheme after fellow developer Grosvenor pulled out in 2009. A spokesman said the firm was already working on proposals for a new project.

Richard Coppell, development director for Lend Lease, said: “While we are disappointed that Preston Tithebarn is not going ahead as originally planned, this is unsurprising given the market backdrop. The tough economic climate and John Lewis Partnership’s decision not to come to the city centre means that the scheme’s design needs to change. Lend Lease remains the City’s development partner and we are continuing to work closely with the Council to help Preston achieve its ambitions.”

The spokesperson was unable to say whether BDP will be retained as architect to redesign the project.

The controversial Tithebarn scheme was first proposed in 2000, but only received planning permission finally in November last year on appeal.