Council urged to refuse £25m Fishergate project

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Plans for the £25m regeneration of Fishergate Shopping Centre in Preston are expected to be refused, after planning officers said that the scheme would go against the emerging City Centre Plan.

Under owner Benson Elliot’s proposals, the shopping centre would be extended from 415,000 sq ft to 456,000 sq ft, to include a new Vue cinema, which has agreed to relocate from the Capitol Centre at Walton le Dale.

However, according to a report ahead of Preston City Council’s planning committee meeting on 28 April, approving the project would “undermine the plan-making process”, which allocates the Markets Quarter area of the city for a cinema-led development, and restricts schemes of a similar kind elsewhere.

A public consultation into the Plan is currently ongoing, and is due to end on Friday 29 April.

The council and Muse Developments are currently bringing forward the £50m redevelopment of the Markets Quarter, which includes an 11-screen cinema operated by The Light.

Planning officers described the application for Fishergate as “premature”, and said that it “fails to satisfactorily demonstrate the precise and full extent of traffic impacts”.

Fishergate Centre was acquired for £40m by private equity real estate fund manager Benson Elliot in August 2013 from Deloitte, acting as administrator to London & Associated Properties and Lloyds Bank.

Planning consultant DP9 and architect Colman is advising Benson Elliot.

There was no comment available from Benson Elliot at the time of publication. Preston City Council was approached for comment as to why two cinemas projects could not be approved in the city centre.

A statement from Vue said: “Vue cinema has been located in the city’s Capitol Centre for the last 20 years and is a well-known, popular destination for film fans in the local community and beyond. Vue is looking forward to continuing to operate within the centre providing the best in big screen entertainment for the foreseeable future.”

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