The area around Preston’s Guild Hall could become an “oasis of arts and leisure” if tycoon Simon Rigby has his way.
The business has bought the tower block next the Guild Hall, and has revealed ambitious plans for a nightclub, or a football-led sports museum.
We’ve got two approaches which we have had so far for the old Morrisons. One is for a football-led but general sports museum
Mr Rigby has acquired the building, which previously formed part of the now-abandoned Tithebarn regeneration plans, from Preston Tithebarn General Partner Limited.
The businessman bought the Guild Hall from Preston Council last year and has now expanded his portfolio again.
He described the Guild Centre acquisition as the “next step in making Preston Guild Hall an oasis of arts and leisure in the heart of Lancashire”.
He said: “We’ve got two approaches which we have had so far for the old Morrisons. One is for a football-led but general sports museum.”
Mr Rigby said the other option was to open a nightclub.
“There are 20,000 people a day drive to Preston, we want them to be able to have a meal with us, take in a show and do some dancing.
“During the day it would be used as a conference and banqueting venue.”
The tycoon will now share ownership of the access to the bus station and its car park with Lancashire County Council and has revealed grand plans for the walkways.
Mr Rigby said: “We don’t want people having to dart in and out of the theatre, we want them to be enjoying the whole experience.
“We would like to see the day where the overpass, if you come to see Jurassic adventures, is green and growling at you. TV is so strong these days we’ve got to make it more of an immersive experience.
“We would like to see when panto is on, all our eateries themed towards panto and the whole lighting of the place themed towards it.”
Mr Rigby said the tenancy of government departments based in the tower block, would be “completely unaffected” by the transaction.
Council leader Coun Peter Rankin said: “Simon sees the tremendous potential in Preston and is investing at exactly the right time. The Guild Hall is going from strength to strength.
“Now, with the purchase of the Guild Tower, Simon will be able to expand the offer at the venue and provide for a more welcoming and enjoyable experience.
“With Lancashire County Council’s £13m investment in the bus station and our multi-million pound regeneration of the markets quarter, it is an exciting time for Preston.”