Preston Guild Hall’s massive redevelopment has been shortlisted for a tourism and leisure award, while a bollard in the city centre has controversially been nominated for a business accolade.

The Guild Hall in Preston city centre has been transformed through a huge £10m investment from entrepreneur Simon Rigby, and the redevelopment has been recognised by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in its latest Awards 2018 North West. The project is one of five to have been shortlisted for the award in service of the tourism and leisure industry in the north-west.

Celebrating the region’s most innovative projects and their impact on local communities, other hopefuls in the category include Artisan RV Restaurant and Bar in Manchester, and Doubletree by Hilton Hotel and Spa in Chester. The awards will be handed out at a ceremony in Manchester on 27 April.

At the time of the Guild Hall’s regeneration, Guild Group head of operations Richard Simkin said: “Simon [Rigby] has invested a lot of time and money in getting the place turned around. We have seen tangible evidence around the area that others have invested as well.

“One thing leads to another and it just snowballs. The only way is up. We are focused on driving a Preston boom. It WILL boom in the future – it could be five years off, but Preston will definitely boom.”

Putting Preston on the map

Meanwhile, the Smiles Better Awards, which gives members of the public in Preston the chance to vote for their high street heroes, has shortlisted a “tweeting bollard” in the city centre for the award. The Fishergate Bollard has its own Twitter account, which currently has around 2,900 followers, and has been nominated because people “have an affinity” with it.

BID manager Mark Whittle added: “The bollard, through its communication channels – this sounds really strange – talks to a lot of people and has a really active social media presence.”

Despite the odd nature of the award nomination, Preston is receiving more attention nationally and being placed firmly on the map in the north-west – which has been further strengthened after the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index named the city as the top place to live and work in the north-west in its most recent analysis.