Preston’s flashy new entertainment hub could get off the ground earlier than expected

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A start on building Preston's £40m Animate entertainment complex could be just weeks away.

The first spades in the ground could come as early as August, according to council leader Coun Matthew Brown.

And he has also revealed that while many high street brands are interested in snapping up units in the new venue, smaller local businesses could still be able to get a slice of the action with slots in the food court.

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In his leader's update to Thursday's full council meeting, Coun Brown will tell councillors that the start date for construction is now planned for August/September, earlier than the October estimate given just a month ago.

Ready for work to begin - the site where Animate will be built.Ready for work to begin - the site where Animate will be built.
Ready for work to begin - the site where Animate will be built.
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Cinema group signs up for prime spot in Preston’s new leisure complex

Animate's two anchor tenants have already signed up - an eight screen cinema and a 16-lane bowling alley.

The independent Arc Cinema company has taken a 25-year lease on a 29,500 sq ft unit, the biggest in the complex.

They followed Hollywood Bowl who were the first to sign up for a prime spot in the council-owned state-of-the-art development on the site of the former indoor market hall and multi-storey car park which were both demolished in 2019.

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

Hollywood Bowl will boast computerised lanes with “plush seating, a stylish bar and diner and a cutting-edge amusement area.”

Four of Animate's restaurants are said to be under offer and announcements on who will be moving in could be made soon.

The scheme, first imagined back in 2010 as part of the ill-fated £700m Tithebarn Redevelopment, could be up and running by the spring of 2024.

It is estimated the complex could bring around £7m into the local economy and provide 140 full-time equivalent jobs when it is fully operational.

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In his report to the council, Coun Brown will say that after the signing of Arc and Hollywood Bowl: "Many other well known high street brands are set to follow.

"But there are also opportunities for smaller enterprises being made available through the proposed food court.

"Based on current plans, spades in the ground are expected August/September 2022."

Animate will be Preston Council’s biggest project and will fill the gap between Ringway and the new Market Hall.