In November 2019 Preston, a pocket sized city in Lancashire, was invited to be part of the government’s Towns Fund initiative. To receive government investment and support an Investment Plan had to be jointly developed by a public, private and third sector partnership with the Plan demonstrating that funding would be spent on priorities which would deliver local economic and community benefit.
Already advising and supporting Preston City Council on regeneration and development Beckie stepped in as project manager to develop the Investment Plan. The first step was a deep dive into the government guidance and criteria, followed by a review of the partnership arrangements in place in the City and an analysis of existing pipeline investment projects. These three steps were essential to confirm if a credible plan could be prepared within the time available. Beckie prepared Terms of Reference for new governance arrangements, and advised on senior level Board membership. In January 2020 the City of Preston Towns Fund Board was established. Beckie led on the appointment of a team of economic, real estate, transport, design and stakeholder engagement consultants to support the preparation of the Investment Plan. Beckie prepared a detailed implementation plan and managed relationships with Board members, civil servants, senior City Council officers and councillors as well as managing the wider consultancy team.
The City Investment Plan was submitted in 2020, with an award of £20m announced in 2021. While the plan submission was an important milestone the establishment of an energetic Board and the building of momentum is arguably a more important step and essential for the sustainable regeneration of Preston City Centre. Beckie is now supporting the Board in implementing the investment programme and wider investment plan.
“Beckie has supported me in my role as Chair of the Towns Fund Board from the outset. Her fluency in local and central government ways of working combined with a real understanding of how the private sector does things has really helped me and the Board to make significant progress over the last 12 months.”