The people of Preston

Freshfield plays lead role in Winckley Square gardens £1.2m restoration project


The people of Preston


Property and Regeneration

How we helped:

  • Company formation and secretarial
  • Vision creation
  • Lobbying
  • Public consultation
  • Brand identity and website
  • Strategic communications
  • Media relations and social media

Winckley Square is located in the heart of Preston, in the city’s conservation district. The Square is home to a number of professional firms, including Freshfield, St Wilfrid’s Church presbytery, apartments, private homes and a hotel, with the centre piece being Winckley Square gardens.

Winckley Square was the brainchild of the Preston lawyer, William Cross, who purchased Town End Field from the Winckley estate in 1796. William built the first house on the Square in 1799 and named the Square after the Winckley family. For more information, visit

Our brief

With no investment and little maintenance, local residents and business leaders feared that Winckley Square gardens was facing irrevocable decline unless action was taken.

To help address matters, six local business leaders, including Freshfield’s Simon Turner, started to look at how the private sector could support the public sector in restoring the gardens.

Ongoing discussions led to the Winckley Square Community Interest Company (WSCIC) being founded by John Chesworth (Harrison Drury), Mark Clarkson (Eckersley), David Gill (MHA Moore and Smalley), Mick Goode (Croft Goode Architects), Richard McDowell (Napthens) and Simon.

The brief was simple; to lead a restoration of Winckley Square gardens.

What we delivered

The co-founders created WSCIC because they passionately felt that Winckley Square and the surrounding district had the potential to be a rich and dynamic visual, cultural and intellectual outdoor experience for the community, Prestonians and visitors alike.

The ambition of the WSCIC was:

  • To help transform Winckley Square into an award-winning scenic landmark, one of the best public spaces in the North
  • To create a place the community could be proud of
  • To create a thriving Northern residential, commercial, leisure and cultural city quarter

Soon after its formation, the WSCIC worked on creating an influential board of directors that included leaders from the Preston Business Improvement District (BID), Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council, UCLan and Preston Historical Society.

WSCIC appointed Groundwork to lead a funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Having worked closely with the public and historians, a vision for a sympathetic yet transformational regeneration of Winckley Square Gardens was created, and a grant of £1.2m was secured in 2015 to transform the gardens.

Groundwork developed designs, conversation plans and oversaw the restoration project which involved significant contribution from a number of prominent local historians. The project was delivered by Barton Grange Landscapes.

In addition to helping form the WSCIC and acting as a board member, Simon Turner and the Freshfield team helped create the brand identity for WSCIC and managed the PR and communications office on a pro-bono basis.


The gardens reopened in November 2016, bringing much joy to the people of Preston.

As part of the £1.2m funding, a new Friends of Winckley Square group was launched and under the leadership of its Chair, Patricia Harrison, it oversees a programme of activities and events that have drawn in visitors from across the region.

In 2018, Winckley Square gained a Green Flag Award. The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

The investment in the Square has also been a catalyst for a number of regeneration projects including residential schemes, the opening of a new hotel and new co-working space

“It has been one of the most successful private-public sector partnerships we have ever seen.”

Preston City Council