St Modwen Skelmersdale June 18
Work is underway at St Modwen's nearby retail development

Cinema for Skelmersdale after 38-year wait

Dan Whelan

US firm Star Cinemas is set to open its first UK branch at the Concourse Shopping Centre this year, almost 40 years after the town’s last cinema closed its doors. 

Skelmersdale in Lancashire has been without silver screen entertainment since 1982 but Star, which will be located on the ground floor of Concourse and offer cinema tickets for £5, plans to open to the public in August or September this year, depending on the easing of Government lockdown restrictions. 

The shopping centre is owned by the Skelmersdale Limited Partnership, a joint venture between London and Cambridge Properties and Threadneedle Investments. The partnership was granted planning consent in 2014 for an extension to the shopping centre, which at the time included a cinema on the second floor.

The Star Cinema theatre will be housed on the ground floor of the shopping centre.

Cllr Ian Moran, leader of West Lancashire Council, said: “This is…a real expression of faith in Skelmersdale at this difficult time for town centres.  

“The people of Skelmersdale have been wanting a cinema in the town centre for many years and, alongside the new town centre development, this demonstrates that the town is really on the up.” 

Nearby, work on the first phase of St Modwen’s 50,000 sq f, £19m retail project began in January. 

The first phase of the project will see the construction of a Lidl supermarket and a B&M Bargains store as well as improvements to Skelmersdale public library. 

The second phase of the scheme moots a 50,000 sq ft leisure offer including restaurants and a multiscreen cinema operated by Reel. 

St Modwen is delivering the project in partnership with Homes England, after winning a legal battle to advance the scheme when Skelmersdale Limited Partnership earlier opposed it. 

SLP was granted planning permission in 2014 for a £4m leisure extension, including a seven-screen cinema, to the Concourse Shopping Centre.

The following year, the partnership launched a judicial review of West Lancashire Council’s decision to approve the St Modwen project, but the High Court ruled against SLP in the case.

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About time, next they need is a train link.

By Liverpolitis

Believe it when I see it .Been living in Skem 30 odd years.Like wAiting for the invisible train .

By Anonymous

It’s about time this so called town improved I have been up here from Kent 28 years and it’s absolute disgrace this place more and more house’s being built but NO SHOP’S call this a town I am ashamed when family visit from down south to admit i live here.

By Christine Thomas

Been here forty years still waiting for some social services

By M Williamson

Hope Skem’ gets a new rail link and new station.

There are some infrastructure challenges in its construction as there are no former rail corridors from previous use, as the original Skem station (closed to passengers in 1956) lay 1.51 miles to the west of the Concourse and ran in a north-south direction.

That just leaves the option of a brand new rail corridor and track link to either of the following:

1) Wigan-to-Southport line (passes 2.64 miles to the north of Skem Councourse), or

2) Wigan-to-Kirkby line (passes 1.83 miles to the south of Skem Concourse).

No.2 is probably the best (for various reasons).

The new Borders railway in Scotland (opened 2015) had construction costs of around £10M per mile. Taking into account Skem’s weaker scale-of-economies (no existing former lines and the need for new infrastructure / tunnels / etc) the Skem’ cost-per-mile could be £25M to £30M, therefore circa £60M plus around £10M to £15M for a new station terminus.

The construction cost total could be around £75M, with obviously lots more cost for land purchase and suchlike. Say around £100M total costs.

With a new Skem station projected annual usage of circa 1,000,000 (Kirkby had 2,488,000 in 2018 / 2019) paying an average of £10 per journey (rough estimate) the overall cost could would take 10 years to recoup for the operator / franchisee.

All very rough estimates but interesting (to me at least).

By North by North-West

We’ve heard it all before

By Steve

Good to see and eventually get our cinema again. We did have one on the ground floor when the concourse was 1st opened. Shame that it wasn’t kept then. It would be great to have more places that attract dis engaged young children/adults and a community offering more for the health and mental well being. Sensory places, water parks, decent play areas. Let’s hope our people of Skelmersdale have jobs offered with incentives that are attractive and companies that actually look after their employees. Skelmersdale deserves these upgrades and additions. Let’s hope we get the train station too!! Skelmersdale has a lot of beautiful countryside let’s hope that’s appreciated and not destroyed though .

By Tracey

the people of skelmersdale have not been wanting a cinema for years if they were there would have been newspaper stories showing campaigning for one what we have been waiting fore is a better shopping center & a better bus sevice

By kenny wilkinson

It’s about time skelmersdalever got with the times thay shold also think about an adventure playground for the kids skelmersdale as be behind for years in a lot of things thay should have more than one retail park and maybe a movie drive Inn

By Micheal Halsall

This town needs some entertainment, I myself left skelmersdale years ago because of the lack of entertainment. Look forward, look what other towns and city’s have done to keep the populus happy & stay put.

By Kenneth piggott

Good news on cinema! Skem had trains to Rainford Junction (St.Helens) on Kirkby line and to Ormskirk. Both these lines are intact for most of the route minus the rails. With LCR committed to expand Merseyrail Electrics to Tower Hill and Northwood (Headbolt Lane), the Skem extension can be done in stages, in line with Merseyrail’s historic incremental expansion pattern. The Kirkby line should be electrified to Rainford Junction as a second phase (lots more housing going up here), and then the final stage to Skem will be a lot cheaper. It just takes a proper plan with the various councils and rail bodies working together. LCR should lead on this with West Lancs. They sit on the LCR combined authority and should work closely with Lancashire CC.

By Tanhouse

From the photo above, St Modwen didn’t allow for an architect in their budget?

By 9DL