Preston Invests In New Leisure Complex

As we begin a new year there are big plans for our City. Investment in a new leisure complex will bring jobs, growth and a welcome boost for Preston and the surrounding areas

A planning application for the city owned multi-million-pound cinema and leisure complex, Animate, has been lodged by Preston City Council.

Since the scheme was first proposed, plans have progressed to improve the previously consented proposals and respond to the current leisure market trends.

The planning application includes an eight screen cinema; 16 lane bowling alley, competitive social unit (suitable for a range of uses), five family restaurants, a street food hub, public realm improvements, 164 space car park, a Changing Places’ facility and associated servicing arrangements.

The Animate scheme aims to bring growth and development to the city centre, create a quality leisure destination to bring families back into Preston and make the city the ‘place to be’. As well as bringing in over £7million of extra economic activity every year while creating 140 full time equivalent jobs.

This planning application has now been submitted to Preston City Council’s Planning Department. A period of consultation will be open to allow the public the opportunity to express their views on the proposed development. The application will be considered and decided by the Planning Committee, which is made up of elected councillors.

Subject to achieving planning permission work is programmed to begin on site in Summer 2022.

Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council, said: “This planning application is the vital next step in the Animate scheme, which aims to bring key investment and jobs to benefit the people of Preston, as well as stimulating investment in the surrounding area. It is a central part of our ambitions for a more democratic local economy with the asset retained in city ownership once developed.

“The scheme aims to enhance the leisure offer within the city centre, build resiliency as we recover from Covid and make Preston a key destination to live, work and visit. Now the application has been submitted, it will be considered by the planning committee who will make their decision over the coming weeks.”

Andrew Dewhurst, director of Maple Grove Developments, commented: “This joint planning application, submitted by Preston City Council and Maple Grove Developments aims to create a leading leisure destination within the city centre.

“We’ve worked closely with the City Council and Leach Rhodes Walker Architects in developing the design and scheme content, to ensure the Animate project will meet the goal of creating a thriving, sustainable city centre offer for everyone to enjoy.”

As we go to print news has come in that the first tenant has been confirmed for Animate, Cinema and Leisure Complex.

Hollywood Bowl is coming to Preston as part of the city owned multi-million-pound cinema and leisure complex.

This anchor operator, who specialise in operating large, high quality bowling centres, will open a new entertainment venue, which will feature 16 fully computerised lanes with plush seating, a stylish bar and diner and a cutting-edge amusement area, in the new development which will be located on the site of the former indoor market.

Animate will also include a cinema, new restaurants and bars, a car park, and new public square. There are numerous discussions happening regarding further occupiers, as soon as they are confirmed they will be announced in the coming months.

This scheme will bring growth and development to the city centre as well as bringing in over £7million of extra economic activity every year while creating 140 full time equivalent jobs.

Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council, said: “Welcoming Hollywood Bowl on-board the Animate scheme is a really positive step forward in our plans to bring this exciting city owned development to Preston for the whole community to benefit from.

“As well as bringing investment and jobs to the people of Preston, this key anchor operator will help support the regeneration of our city centre. This major family attraction is a first for the city centre and will complement our existing leisure offer. It will bring people into Preston and further support our strongly established small business community.”

Laurence Keen, Chief Financial Officer of Hollywood Bowl Group, said: “We are pleased to have secured another prime, high footfall destination to enable us to continue to execute on our new centre opening strategy. We’re delighted to be bringing the Hollywood Bowl brand to Preston and to be a part of the exciting development of the Animate leisure complex.”

Andrew Dewhurst, Director of Maple Grove Developments, commented: “We’re delighted to have secured Hollywood Bowl as the first named operator for Animate. This exciting news contributes massively to Preston’s goal of creating a thriving, sustainable city centre with an outstanding leisure and entertainment offer.

“We recently submitted a new planning application for the Animate scheme with Preston City Council and expect to be able to announce further lettings over the winter months.”

Preston City Council actively applies and prioritises the principles of Community Wealth Building wherever applicable and appropriate. Community Wealth Building is an approach which aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone.

The Architect for this scheme is Leach Rhodes Walker and the planning consultant CBRE. Subject to planning permission being granted, it is anticipated construction work on the project could begin in 2022 with the complex opening in spring 2024.

Preston’s Harris Quarter

The Animate development is one of six major projects planned under Preston’s Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme, for which the city was awarded £20.9m from the government’s national Towns Fund initiative in March 2021. It is also a key project within the 15-year Preston City Investment Plan.

The other projects included in Preston’s Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme are:
• Preston Pop Ups: Bringing together new temporary event space, artworks and improvements to public realm infrastructure, aimed at boosting visitor activity in the Harris Quarter.
• CEIAG Hub: The creation of a new Careers and Employment, Information, Advice and Guidance Hub in the Harris Quarter.
• Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets: Investment to support the redevelopment of publicly-owned buildings in the Harris Quarter to support new cultural and community uses.
• Illuminate and Integrate: A project to deliver improved pedestrian and cycleway infrastructure, street lighting and other public realm improvements within the Harris Quarter.
• Preston Youth Zone: The development of Preston Youth Zone as a state-of-the-art facility for young people in Preston aged eight to 19.
• #HarrisYourPlace: The refurbishment of the Grade I listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library, enhancing and protecting the building for generations to come.

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Tedd Walmsley

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