Burnley picks Maple Grove for Pioneer Place

Burnley Council has agreed to appoint Maple Grove Developments to develop a leisure and retail scheme on the town centre’s former Pioneer site in Curzon Street.

The Pioneer Place scheme is to include a relocated Reel cinema, restaurants, a public plaza, shops and a 125-space car park on the site, which sits between Addington Capital’s 365,000 sq ft Charter Walk shopping centre and Burnley College and University of Central Lancashire facilities.

The council’s executive last year launched procurement for scheme, giving it an estimated value of £12m to £18m, and this week gave approval for a deal to be finalised with Maple Grove, the development arm of Lancastrian stalwart Eric Wright Group.

Council leader Mark Townsend said: “Lining up a development partner for the Curzon Street site is the first stage in this ambitious project which will enable us to deliver a massive boost for Burnley. This scheme will draw in more visitors, boost the local economy, and further establish Burnley’s reputation as an attractive and vibrant shopping and leisure destination.

“We want to expand the range of leisure and entertainment facilities in the town centre, especially by attracting high quality, well-established restaurant chains to our town. Town centres are changing, with shoppers expecting a wider range of leisure uses and family-orientated restaurants alongside a good mix of shops.

Andrew Dewhurst, director of Maple Grove, said: “Our proposal has been shaped to take advantage of the site’s prominence and proximity to the UCLan/Burnley College campus as well as meeting the needs of known occupiers who are seeking space in the town centre. We look forward to forging a strong and effective partnership with Burnley Council as we take forward this important development.”

B9775 Pioneer Place Burnley CGI View 01

Under the proposals Reel Cinemas would move from its current site in Manchester Road, on the edge of the town centre, to a new multi-screen complex. A national supermarket chain would take over and convert the existing cinema, together with a redesigned car park and improved access.

No details of the supermarket or restaurant chains are being disclosed yet. A start date for the building work has not been set and planning still has to be secured. Previously, proposals for the site were brought forward by Henry Boot and later Terrace Hill.

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Facilities that attract students and young people are great if they sit alongside an established retail offering. The retail offering needs to be diverse and include a substantial number of quality independents in order to attract the shopper with a reasonable level of disposable income. Burnley council has not yet grasped this and seems focused on catering for students. If you want to know the results of this mistake look no further than Lancaster. The West end of Burnley town centre from Brown Street to the ring road is currently nothing short of a slum. When are the council going to wake up and realise that this gateway into Burnley is ‘ the first impression’ and you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.

By richard ellison

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