Digging deep as foundation work starts on Preston’s £45m Animate cinema and leisure complex

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Preston's £45m Animate cinema and leisure complex has taken a major step forward with the start of foundation work at the city centre site.

Developers expect the piling process to be completed by June, ready for construction of the huge building's steel framework.

The complex, which will include a bowling alley, restaurants, a street food hub and undercover car parking, is scheduled to be completed by late next year.

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Council-owned Animate is a key part of a £200m public and private sector investment programme for Preston which planners say will transform the city.

How the Animate complex will look.How the Animate complex will look.
How the Animate complex will look.

"The start of the piling work is an auspicious occasion and marks another step toward the renaissance of Preston," said John Chesworth, chair of Preston’s Towns Fund Strategic Board.

"The Animate complex has already attracted well-respected leisure brands, and together they’ll create an impressive offering of activities that will increase footfall to the city, bringing additional economic benefits. We’re making solid progress with our collective vision for Preston, and momentum is building."

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Animate, on the site of Preston's old market hall and car park, was given planning permission in 2016. It will have an eight-screen Arc cinema, a 16-lane Hollywood Bowl, five family restaurants overlooking the market, a food hub and undercover parking for 164 cars. On top it will have a cinema bar terrace and games area.

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Work began on preparing the site in January.Work began on preparing the site in January.
Work began on preparing the site in January.

Only three of the units are still to be let - including the food hub and one of the restaurants . The latest company to sign up in February was Loungers national cafe/bar chain which agreed a 15-year lease.

"Animate is the flagship project within the Harris Quarter regeneration programme which is part of the broader £200m City Investment Programme, which heralds a new era for Preston and its residents," explained Chris Hayward, director of development and housing at Preston City Council.

"Animate will act as the catalyst for the wider city’s social, economic and physical regeneration, creating lasting benefits for all."

And Nick Hague, director at developers Maple Grove, added: "Animate will be an exemplar of what can be achieved when the public and private sector work together.

"A huge amount of collaboration has taken place for us to reach this point and we’re now very excited to be on site and delivering this superb scheme for the people of Preston."

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