Ground breaks at £45m Preston city centre leisure
Being delivered by the city council in partnership with Maple Grove Developments, Animate will feature an eight-screen Arc Cinema, a bowling alley, and several restaurants.
Eric Wright Construction has begun work on the £45m leisure project, with completion scheduled for winter 2024.
Leader of Preston City Council Matthew Brown said Animate was central to the authority’s plans to diversify the city centre and increase footfall.
He added: “The development is not only a catalyst for attracting further investment into the city, but working in partnership with Maple Grove Developments…we have an opportunity to work more closely with a skilled local supply chain, working towards our shared vision for a more inclusive Preston economy.”
The 168,000 sq ft Animate is being built on Preston’s former indoor market site, a plot that has been a key regeneration priority for the city council for several years.
Maple Grove firm first got involved in 2019 after plans put forward by Muse, and approved in 2016, stalled.
The developers had initially joined forces in reworking the project but Muse is no longer involved in the scheme.
Preston City Council granted planning approval for Animate last March. Since then, Zizzi, Las Iguanas, and Cosmo have signed to occupy a total of 18,000 sq ft, taking the development to 75% let.
Andrew Dewhurst, director at Maple Grove Developments, said: “A huge amount of work over many years has got us to this point and credit must go to the city council, as well as the wider project team for their determination and drive in making sure plans become a reality.
“There are now nearly two years of construction work ahead of us on the site of the former markets but the benefits Animate will bring to Preston once it is open will make it certainly worth the wait.”
The scheme is funded and owned by Preston City Council, with a combined £6.6m of additional support coming from the Towns Fund and City Deal.
Work to improve the surrounding public realm is being paid for by an £800,000 grant from Lancashire County Council.
Animate is one part of the city council’s £200m Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme.
John Chesworth, chair of Preston Partnership, said: “As one of the key Town Deal projects, Animate will help to regenerate the Harris Quarter and support the city council’s commitment to Preston’s City Investment Plan 2035.”
The project team includes architect Leach Rhodes Walker, CBRE as planner, Planit-IE as landscape architect, Civic Engineers as highways consultant, Gleeds advising on cost, and Waterman as M&E consultant and structural engineer.
GIA is advising on wind and Warrington Fire is the fire engineer.