Homeware group ready to roar into former Preston motorcycle showroom

An unnamed homeware store group is ready to kick-start Preston's former Harley Davidson motorcycle showroom which has been empty for more than six months.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Monday, 12th July 2021, 12:50 pm

The Leyland-based Willeth Pension Fund, which owns the property on Strand Road, says it has a client eager to roar in if the city council will give permission for the change of use.

The showroom, which Bowker Harley Davidson has occupied for the past 14 years, was previously the Strand Bar and Bistro, Preston s first non-smoking venue.

The Strand opened in 2005, but closed down less than two years later, with Bowker taking over the building in 2007 to sell the iconic motorcyle brand.

The former Bowker Harley Davidson showroom has been vacant since the end of December.

The motor group vacated the property at the end of last year and attempts to find a new use have proved unsuccessful until now.

Willeth wants the council to allow a change of use from a motorcycle dealership to the sale of non-food goods.

In a statement to the planning committee, the company says: "A homeware operator has agreed to take the unit if planning permission is granted."

Although there are no plans to alter the building both inside and outside, regulations say the owners have to prove there are no suitable sites for the new store in the city centre before permission can be granted to allow it to open on the outskirts.

Town planners representing the pension fund say they have searched the city for alternative premises, using commercial estate agents, but none have been found that could accommodate a 1,455 sqm store.

The former HMV store in Fishergate was considered, but it was found to be too small. Vacant premises in Guildhall House and Guildhall Tower were not suitable either and a plot of land on the Queens Retail Park was also discounted.

"No existing sequentially preferable premises which could accommodate the proposed development were identified following a rigorous review," says a report to the committee.