Muse Developments has submitted a planning application for a cinema-led leisure development in Preston city centre, the day after it emerged that a rival scheme at Fishergate was due to be refused by the council.
Muse is working in partnership with Preston City Council on the plans, made up of an 11-screen cinema operated by The Light, seven family restaurants, a 593-space multi-storey car park and public realm improvements.
The £50m project forms part of the wider regeneration of the Markets Quarter which includes the full refurbishment and redecoration of the grade two-listed Market canopies and the construction of a glazed Market Hall.
Yesterday, a report ahead of the council’s planning committee meeting on 28 April revealed that councillors were being encouraged to refuse Benson Elliot’s £40m regeneration of Fishergate Shopping Centre in Preston, which also includes a cinema element alongside refurbished shops.
Vue was understood to be operating the cinema and relocating from its current base in the Capital Centre, according to previous statements from Benson Elliot. However, a statement from Vue said it was renewing its lease at the centre, and 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.”
Preston planning officers said that approving the scheme 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.
However, research commissioned by Benson Elliot by retail consultants GCW advocated approving more than one cinema in the city centre, and said that: “Industry analysts believe Preston can easily support two city centre cinemas. And they believe Preston is ready to take its place alongside similar cities and towns that already have a superior city centre retail and leisure offer.
“Their research reveals Middlesbrough, Hull, Coventry and Swansea each have four cinemas.”
Mike Horner, regional director for Muse Developments, said: “Submitting the planning application is a significant milestone in realising this important project for Preston. It represents the culmination of much hard work alongside the Council to ensure the proposals are of the highest quality and in accordance with the wider plans for a comprehensive and successful regeneration of the markets area.
“The proposals are a great opportunity to provide much-needed leisure facilities for the city and we’re confident that the proposed scheme, along with a quality cinema operator, will offer something different, bring families back into the city centre, create jobs and become a catalyst for further investment.”
There was no comment from Benson Elliot on Preston’s plans to refuse the Fishergate scheme, or confirmation that Vue was still secured as the cinema operator, at the time of publication.