Developer-investor Moorgarth, backed by South African retail billionaire Christo Wiese, has completed the acquisition of Market Place Shopping Centre in Bolton and submitted its first-phase planning application for a £15m rebirth.
The first planning application was made days after buying the 400,000 sq ft centre. The design by Wren Architecture & Design is for the addition of a nine-screen, 1,200-seat cinema within the existing centre. The 30,000 sq ft cinema will be installed in part of the 640-space three-storey car park, with partial replacement of parking spaces above. Bolton does not currently have a town centre cinema and this is a council priority.
The design statement by Wren said that because the cinema will fit within the walls of the car park, the top level of the car park can be extended over the auditoria. Existing mechanical
plant for the shopping centre will also be relocated up to this level.
The cinema extension at second floor will use a mix of glass, metal and polycarbonate materials on its exterior. A later application will be made to illuminate the cinema box at night.
Further applications will also follow to convert the basement brick vaults of the Victorian Market Hall at the south of the centre into 30,000 sq ft of restaurant space in seven or eight units. This will include opening up the floor to create views into the basement in the style of the arcades in Covent Garden, London.
Talks with the council and English Heritage have started and Moorgarth said it hoped to move this phase forward as soon as possible.
Market Place was acquired by Christo Wiese's Inception Holdings SARL, represented in the UK by Moorgarth, for £24m from administrators last month.
Moorgarth plans to halt and reverse the decline the centre has seen in recent years, when a number of key tenants closed or chose not to renew leases. There is a current void rate of 40%.
The redevelopment will include modernistaion of the 1980s north building including improvements to customer flow, new shop fronts, lifts and stairways. Units will be reconfigured to create trading floorplates more suitable for today's retailers, which often require larger areas.
There will also be click-and-collect locations for tenants and new loyalty schemes and events integrated into an online marketing plan.
Peter Brett Associates advised Moorgarth on transport issues.