Preston’s £40m Animate takes a step forward

Maple Grove Developments is forging ahead with its plans to redevelop the city’s former indoor market site into a leisure scheme featuring an eight-screen cinema and a 16-lane bowling alley.

The Leach Rhodes Walker-designed project also features, five restaurant and bar units, a street food hub, and a 164-space car park. 

Maple Grove, which is delivering Animate for Preston City Council, has lodged a planning application for the scheme five years after an earlier iteration of the project was approved. 

The development has changed over recent years in response to current leisure market trends, the council said. 

Muse Developments was appointed as Preston City Council’s development partner for the site in 2015. In 2016, the company won planning consent to create an 11-screen cinema, seven family restaurants, and a 593-space multi-storey car park, but work never started on site. 

Animate 2, Preston, P.Preston City Council

Work could start next summer subject to planning approval. Credit: Preston City Council

Maple Grove came on board in 2019 and it is understood Muse is no longer involved in the project.  

The latest version of Animate is expected to boost Preston’s economy by £7m a year and create around 140 jobs, according to the council.   

Subject to planning approval, work could start on site in the middle of next year. Completion is projected for spring 2024.   

In August, Preston agreed to contribute £33m towards the £40m leisure development.

In addition, around £3.5m will come from Preston’s £20.9m Towns Deal award, and a further £3.25m will be from the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.

“Animate aims to bring key investment and jobs to benefit the people of Preston, as well as stimulating investment in the surrounding area,” said Cllr Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council. 

“The scheme aims to enhance the leisure offer within the city centre, build resiliency as we recover from Covid and make Preston a key destination to live, work and visit.” 

Andrew Dewhurst, director of Maple Grove Developments, commented: “We’ve worked closely with the city council and Leach Rhodes Walker Architects in developing the design and scheme content, to ensure the Animate project will meet the goal of creating a thriving, sustainable city centre offer for everyone to enjoy.” 

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