Pioneer Place AEW Architects
Boohoo has contributed funding towards the scheme. Credit: via planning documents

Start on site nears for Burnley’s £23m Pioneer Place 

Dan Whelan

Eric Wright Construction plans to start work on Maple Grove Developments town centre leisure scheme on Monday 24 January, 16 years after the site’s redevelopment was first mooted. 

Maple Grove, in partnership with Burnley Council, won consent last year for Pioneer Place, featuring a seven-screen REEL cinema occupying 18,800 sq ft, and five retail and leisure units tallying up to 12,750 sq ft. 

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. However, the developer pulled the plug in 2012 after failing to secure enough interest from retailers.

Maple Grove then picked up the baton and secured planning permission in early 2020 for a leisure 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 and leisure units and spanned 61,000 sq ft. 

However, scaled-back proposals, designed by Aew Architects, were lodged and approved last year, paving the way for a long-awaited start on site. 

The £23m Pioneer Place will see REEL relocate from its current Burnley home on Manchester Road. Discount retailer Lidl will then build a supermarket on the former cinema site.

The developer lodged the scaled-back proposals last year. In November, fashion retailer Boohoo, Burnley’s largest employer, agreed to contribute £300,000 towards the project to help the council and Maple Grove overcome the increased costs of the project.

Nik Puttnam, senior development manager at Maple Grove Developments, said: “The partnership with Burnley Council has overcome a great number of challenges to reach this point and the project team must be congratulated for their unwavering commitment to the scheme and to the continued regeneration of Burnley town centre. 

“Our vision to create a leisure quarter that will diversify the evening economy here in Burnley is finally being realised.” 

Burnley Council leader Cllr Afrasiab Anwar said: “It’s fantastic to see this major project get underway. Burnley Council has been determined to forge ahead with this exciting and ambitious project and now it is becoming a reality. 

“Pioneer Place will bring new visitors to Burnley town centre during the day and into the evening, deliver new jobs and support the growth of the rapidly-expanding UCLan campus. It will help diversify what the town centre has to offer to residents and visitors alike and help boost the local economy.” 

Maple Grove Developments will be speaking at Place North West’s Lancashire Development Update on 10 February.

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