Pioneer Place AEW Architects
The refreshed plans feature a foyer opening out onto the development's public realm

Scaled-down Pioneer Place up for approval

Neil Tague

The keenly awaited leisure project from Maple Grove Developments in Burnley town centre is expected to be signed off tomorrow.

Burnley’s development control committee will examine the proposal, with a recommendation by planning officers to approve a scheme that supersedes a larger proposal consented for the site last year.

Maple Grove secured planning in early 2020 with an £18m scheme anchored by an eight-screen Reel cinema. Funded by Burnley Council with £3.2m grant support from Lancashire County Council, this plan included nine retail & leisure units and had a total size of 61,000 sq ft plus 125 parking spaces.

However in February this year, MGD re-applied for the site, with a proposal for a seven -screen cinema, occupying 18,800 sq ft, and just five retail and leisure units tallying up to 12,750 sq ft.

The funding set-up remains the same as the previous iteration, with architect AEW and planner Smith Love leading the professional team.

The Curzon Street/Pioneer Place car park site has long been earmarked as a flagship retail and leisure destination project for Burnley, but has struggled to get off the ground.

Henry Boot Developments, which as early as 2006 had trailed an ambitious £60m project billed as The Oval, won consent in 2011 for a £40m, 173,000 sq ft scheme to be anchored by Next and Primark, but pulled the plug in 2012 after failing to secure enough interest from retailers. MGD then picked up the baton in the ensuing years.

The report prepared for committee members outlines how the scheme has been reoriented so that the cinema foyer now faces onto the rest of the scheme. It also describes how the retail/restaurant units are lower in height than previously approved, due to this, the cinema is exposed above them, allowing views over the top of the units towards the foyer, offering signage opportunities, and being visually prominent from the town centre.

The main square within the public realm element is situated in the centre of the scheme outside the cinema entrance, allowing for a flexible public square which could take on a variety of uses throughout the year such as Christmas markets, festivals or installations, being fed by pedestrian routes into the site from Royle Road, Active Way and Curzon Street.

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just do it, the town has been on hold too long

By Alan