Preston entertainment complex given green light

By Tim Aldred

21 Oct 2022

arc-cinema-animate.jpg

Animate, the proposed multi-million-pound leisure and entertainment complex set for Preston city centre, has been given the go-ahead by the council.

The scheme, located within the Harris Quarter, will feature an eight-screen cinema, a bowling alley, various food and beverage units and new city parking.

The project also includes improvements to the surrounding public realm, including new landscaping, trees and street lighting.

Maple Grove Developments, the council's development partner, received full sign-off on the next milestone and Eric Wright Construction, the main contractor, is now ready to start the construction phase.

Preparation for work on site will start over the next month, with a start on site in early 2023.

Animate, which will be publicly owned, is part funded by Towns Fund investment (£3.4m) and City Deal (£3.25m). It will provide more than 140 long term skilled jobs for local people, including construction employment and training opportunities throughout the building works.

Councillor Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council, said: "Animate is being funded and retained by the council as a strategic public asset and we are confident in the benefits that this development will bring.

"The decision is underpinned by our commitment to the Preston Model - our Community Wealth Building strategy - which is to create and support long-term local jobs, training and investment, and to help bring about positive changes in the standard of living for our residents by ensuring more of our local economy is democratically and socially owned."

He added: "The council is doing a lot to support people through the current cost of living crisis but we also need to help create a fairer, long term economy and this development will help deliver that. An Animate Community Benefit Framework has been agreed between Preston City Council and Maple Grove Developments, to assist the delivery of the project and to provide the maximum impact for Preston’s residents and businesses, creating employment, skills training, using local labour with trade union access, volunteering opportunities and placements within local colleges."

John Chesworth, chair of the Preston Towns Fund Board said: "One of the key priorities of Preston’s 15-year Investment Plan is to transform the city's cultural infrastructure, focussing on our cultural and leisure facilities, public spaces and programmes. A significant part of the Towns Fund is focussed on this priority and Animate is a cornerstone project, so it will be fantastic to see work starting on site.

“A vibrant cultural life in Preston will be a key driver of economic prosperity for the city and it is hoped that Animate, along with Harris your Place, will be the first of many large scale investments to enhance the leisure and cultural offering in Preston."

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