Reel aims for December opening in Blackburn

The cinema operator, which now hopes to open in the town this December, is seeking to extend its lease from 20 years to 25.

Barnfield Construction started work in autumn 2018 on the project, on the former Waves leisure centre site in Nab Lane. Along with an eight-screen cinema, the scheme includes a café, dessert bar and undercroft parking as well as public realm works to improve links between nearby key areas.

Blackburn with Darwen Council took the scheme through planning early in 2018, initially hoping for an opening in 2019. The hoped-for opening date has slid back, with further delays caused by the pandemic pushing the launch back to first November and now December.

A report will next week go before the local authority’s “call-in” committee, with executive members asked to approve the extension of the cinema lease. This is proposed at the same rental level, giving the council an extra five years’ income.

Barnfield told Place North West this week that it is on target to reach practical completion in two weeks’ time, “with a view to full completion in six weeks”. The council report says that Reel will complete fit out ahead of opening in the key month of December. It adds that “all external works associated with Jubilee Square will also be completed by the December opening” by contractor Casey.

Reel has become one of the more prolific leisure operators in the North West in recent years, taking space at Chorley’s Market Walk, Rochdale Riverside and in Kirkby town centre. It is also lined up to move from its existing Burnley site to the £26m Pioneer Place scheme, and is inked in to operate a cinema within St Modwen’s £19m redevelopment of Skelmersdale town centre.

For Blackburn with Darwen, the project sits alongside the plans to revamp the Blakey Moor area with an emphasis on heritage and the night-time economy.

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