Maple Grove Developments MD, Karen Hirst, joins Preston Partnership board

Preston Partnership has relaunched and we are delighted that our MD of Maple Grove Developments, Karen Hirst, has joined the board.

The private sector led membership body brings together businesses and the public sector to help make Preston a prosperous city to live, work, visit and invest in. Originally formed in 2018, the organisation has grown to include over 100 members from all business sectors.

Our Maple Grove Developments and Construction businesses are currently developing the £45m city centre leisure and entertainment development, Animate, and the £7.4m redevelopment of Grade II-listed Amounderness House in Preston City Centre.

Karen commented on her appointment: “It’s an exciting time for Preston with many major developments underway. Maple Grove Developments and Eric Wright Construction have been leading the transformational Animate development and bringing the historic Amounderness House back to life. Joining the Preston Partnership board is a great opportunity to bring my experience and commitment to support Preston in delivering its regeneration plan for the long term benefit of its communities.”

Read the full Preston Partnership relaunch story:

L-R: Rob Binns, Beckie Joyce, John Chesworth, Karen Hirst, Rizwan Seth, Simon Turner and Adrian Phillips.


Preston Partnership relaunches with new funding, board and drive to help Preston realise its potential

The leader of a Preston private sector membership body has revealed plans to help Preston realise its potential following a relaunch of the organisation.

The message comes from John Chesworth, chair of Preston Partnership, after the organisation secured new funding and unveiled a new board and management team.

Preston Partnership, which has over 100 members, originally formed in 2018 with Preston City Council and University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The organisation led the creation of Preston’s Towns Fund board which secured £20.9million in 2021 to kick-start a £200m regeneration of the city’s cultural Harris Quarter.

Working with Preston City Council, Preston Partnership has now secured £80,000 of funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

The funding will enable the partnership to create a dedicated team and resource to grow its membership base, better represent the private sector and work together with Preston’s anchor institutions including Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, UCLan and other partners to shape and implement future regeneration plans and promote the city.

Activities will also include regular events to improve communication between the private and public sector.

The board will be chaired by John Chesworth, executive chairman of Lancashire and Cumbria law firm, Harrison Drury.

Other board members include:

  • Rob Binns, owner Cotton Court and Lancashire chair, Downtown Lancashire in Business
  • Alban Cassidy, director, Cassidy + Ashton
  • Karen Hirst, managing director, Maple Grove Developments
  • Babs Murphy, CEO, North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce
  • Adrian Phillips, CEO, Preston City Council
  • Rizwan Seth, founder and managing director, Wrkspace
  • Simon Turner, CEO, Freshfield
  • Ginette Unsworth, director of Communications and events, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

Beckie Joyce, founder and CEO of regeneration consultancy, Radics Consulting, has been appointed to lead Preston Partnership’s operations team. Beckie was previously head of strategic development at Lancashire County Council and has held senior development roles at Bolton Council and Manchester City Council, working alongside Sir Howard Bernstein.

As part of Preston’s Towns Fund bid, Preston Partnership helped create the City Investment Plan (CIP), a 15-year vision for Preston which sets out the city’s long-term objectives and strategy to transform Preston.

Speaking on the relaunch, John Chesworth, said: “There is positive change flowing through Preston. The £200m Harris Quarter programme is gathering momentum, we have a world-class university that has transformed the city, an award-winning city living strategy, numerous public realm projects and a growing cultural and independent leisure offering.

“Preston also has a hugely diverse and talented private sector that wants to be better represented. Our ambitious membership sees huge opportunities to grow Preston as a place to live, visit, invest in and do business, and we want to harness this ambition with the public sector to shape Preston’s future.

“We don’t aspire to be another Manchester or Liverpool. We have our own identity and strengths, and an opportunity to be a small giant of a modern city at the heart of Lancashire’s evolution.”

John was also part of the Winckley Square Community Interest Company which worked with Preston City Council to secure a £1.2million Heritage Lottery Fund grant to regenerate Winckley Square Gardens in 2016.

John added: “Preston’s Towns Fund success and the Winckley Square project are perfect examples of how partnership can impact places and lives. We believe that by working together we can grow Preston, positively impacting its people, communities and businesses.”

Adrian Phillips, chief executive of Preston City Council, added: “The relaunch of Preston Partnership provides an important platform for the voices of Preston’s business community, and is a significant step forward in harnessing public and private sector collaboration.

“Building and strengthening our existing partnerships and creating new ones is the key to successful future regeneration and investment in the city.”

Membership of Preston Partnership is free until August 30 2024.

New members can join by visiting

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