Demolition plan for popular retail park

Vue Cinema and Frankie and Bennys at the Capitol Centre which are to be knocked down and replaced with retail units
Vue Cinema and Frankie and Bennys at the Capitol Centre which are to be knocked down and replaced with retail units
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A cinema and restaurant could be demolished under plans to transform a popular retail and leisure park.

The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Ltd, which owns the Capitol Centre in Walton-le-Dale, has applied for permission to flatten the site’s Vue Cinema and neighbouring Frankie & Benny’s restaurant, replacing them with a new retail unit and three additional restaurants.

But the group says its only a contingency plan as they wait to hear what the future holds from tenants.

Gareth Evans, head of corporate affairs at Royal London, said: “The lease for the cinema is up in 2016 and if they don’t choose to renew, we have to have a contingency plan. “We can’t have the possibility of an untennanted building.”

Mr Evans said the group was “neutral” on whether they would prefer the cinema to stay at the site.

A spokesman for Vue Entertainment said: “We are continuing to review our options to remain in Preston, whether this is in the city centre or our existing location. The cinema will not be closing in 2015.”

If Vue chooses not to stay at the current location, Royal London wants to demolish the seven-screen building and restaurant, replacing them with a 33,000 sqft new non-food retail unit. Although an occupier for the unit has not been identified, it claims it is “aware there is retailer demand for it”.

Because Frankie & Benny’s wants to stay at the site, a new restaurant pod, big enough for two units, would be built on the car park near to the existing McDonalds.

A third restaurant of 3,000 sqft is proposed to in-fill the gap between the new retail unit and Prezzo, the later to receive a new fascade treatment.

A new security pod is also proposed in a bid to cut down on anti-social behaviour and thefts.

Ward Councillor and deputy leader of South Ribble Council, Peter Mullineaux, said: “I would be sad to see the cinema go because the nearest one is on the other side of Preston. If there was a possibility of retaining it, it would be good, but we are trying to get shops people want in the area, and at the Capitol Centre we’re starting to do that.”

Coun Barrie Yates said he would like the cinema to stay, to offer a wider range of facilities to local people.