Restaurants look at city centre site

An artist's impression of the proposed development of the former cinema entrance on Church Street, Preston
An artist's impression of the proposed development of the former cinema entrance on Church Street, Preston
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National restaurant chains are eyeing opening in the former Odeon cinema building in Preston city centre, it can be revealed.

The leisure group behind one of the city’s biggest nightclubs has also confirmed it has penned a long-term deal for the adjacent building on Church Street and is planning a £500,000 refurbishment.

Luminar Group has confirmed it has signed a 10-year deal for the Lava and Ignite club with the owner, tycoon Simon Rigby.

Roger Parker, of Preston-based commercial property agent Parker and Company which represents Mr Rigby, confirmed he has spoken with “many major national operators” about moving into entrance space of the former Odeon, which sits alongside the club.

He said: “They agree that it is in the prime position for a leisure operator and the only reason terms have not yet been agreed is because there are so many clubs, bars and restaurants coming onto the market throughout the UK.

“These venues which are fully fitted with existing licences and have come available due to other operators going bust.

“Therefore there is no need at the moment to start from scratch in Preston.”

The agent confirmed it was also talking to an operator about moving into the former cinema auditorium in the building, he added: “It is too early at this stage to give any detail.”

A spokesman for Luminar Group said it will start work on the overhaul of the nightclub in the coming months.

She said: “We are committed to Preston and to being the best late-night operator in the city.

“We have, therefore, signed a long-term lease and will be investing up to £500,000 in Lava and Ignite.

“These are exciting times for the club, we have instructed designers and will be able to reveal the details of our investment over the next couple of months.”

The freehold of the building was bought by Mr Rigby, who the Evening Post last week revealed as the bidder for Preston’s bus station, in November 2011 after Luminar went into administration.

He subsequently agreed a short-term lease with administrators to keep the club running, the deal has now been extended by the group’s new owners, led by industry veteran, Peter Marks.

Mr Parker said Mr Rigby was interested in securing a tenant for the entrance of the former Odeon, which fronts onto Church Street.

The auditorium which once hosted the cinema is set back from the high street.

Mr Parker said: “As soon as an occupier has been identified on a leasehold basis, Simon Rigby will remodel the accommodation and hand it to the occupier for fit out as a developers shell.”

He added the owner had spent “around £1m” on work to the building since acquiring it in 2011.

He has resurfaced the car park on Syke Street at the back of the building and re-let shops and offices which are part of the complex.

Mr Rigby has previously unveiled long-term proposals for a comprehensive redesign of the building to create a property suited to a major department store operator.

But, Mr Parker said it would be “a number of years” before these proposals could come to fruition.

The short-term changes would not scupper this major redevelopment.