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Preston gets Animated!

14 February 2024

As part of Preston's £200 million Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme, Animate Preston, will be a brand-new leisure and entertainment complex at the heart of Preston's city centre. This exciting new development is being delivered by Eric Wright Group on behalf of Preston City Council and Preston Towns Fund Strategic Board. Animate is scheduled to open in early 2025.

The complex will include:

  • eight-screen cinema with bar and restaurant
  • 16-lane bowling alley
  • family-friendly restaurants, including national and regional brands
  • street food hub
  • public terrace
  • 164-space car park

Robert Evans and Ruhin Patel

Faces behind the places

We enjoyed a walkaround behind the scenes at the Animate Preston construction project recently, and we spoke with two young staff members from Eric Wright Group who are currently working onsite during the development phase. They helped us understand more about their role and the project's ongoing progress.

Ruhin Patel

Please introduce yourself and your role within the Animate Project

My name is Ruhin Patel and I'm a trainee quantity surveyor, currently on placement here at the Animate project, working with Eric Wright Group. I've done two years of my degree at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), and I'm here on this project for one year before returning to university for my final year in September 2024.

It's my first time on a construction site and I'm getting some excellent hands-on experience from all different areas.

How do you find it working practically onsite compared with university learning?

It is slightly different because university theory and learning is quite generic, whereas this is a construction site, and in quantity surveying terms, it's very varied as to which sectors you can work in. In construction terms though, it's quite similar to what I've learned so far.

Through theory and studies at UCLan, I'm able apply first-hand what I've learned, rather than just gaining the theoretical side of understanding the industry.

There aren't enough women in construction! It's great to see a young woman entering this industry. What made you choose it?

I really wasn't interested in areas like health care sector or education. I considered engineering but then I chose quantity surveying. And I have no regrets!

It is a male-dominated industry, but hopefully more women will consider it in the future and break that gap in the market. 

What's been your favourite part of working on the Animate Preston project so far?

I'd have to say seeing the progress as the Animate project advances. I'm not onsite every day, so when I am on the ground, it's great to see the development.

Robert Evans

Please introduce yourself and your role in the Animate Project

My name is Robert Evans and I'm an assistant site manager for Eric Wright here on the Animate project.

How did you work towards your position of Assistant Site Manager?

I took an apprenticeship route as a day-release to college. I completed an Ordinary National Certificate (ONC), then a Higher National Certificate (HNC) then I went on to complete a degree, but I've always been working alongside getting my qualifications. It's a great way to do it because you gain experience onsite - very hands-on - but you're also getting the academic side as well. Experience onsite is crucial.

How long have you been onsite here?

The project began in January 2023, but I've been working here since September 2023, and I'll be here until around October/November 2024.

I've learned so much from working here at the Animate project. There's around 10-15 disciplines and still so much to experience and learn from at this specific project.

What's been your favourite part of working on the Animate Preston project so far?

Definitely the team dynamic. Being part of this team is really great. Everyone is supportive and I'm always learning new techniques and knowledge.

Preston Towns Fund

Preston's £200 million Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme projects include:

  • Animate - £45m multi-use entertainment and leisure complex anchored by a state-of-the-art cinema and bowling venue next to Preston Markets
  • Educate Preston -The creation of a new Careers and Employment, Information, Advice and Guidance Hub in the Harris Quarter.
  • Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets - Investment to support the redevelopment of publicly-owned buildings in the Harris Quarter to support new cultural and community uses, including Amounderness House.
  • Illuminate and Integrate -  A project to deliver improved pedestrian and cycleway infrastructure, street lighting and other public realm improvements within the Harris Quarter.
  • Preston Youth Zone - The development of Preston Youth Zone as a state-of-the-art facility for young people in Preston aged eight to 19.
  • #HarrisYourPlace - The refurbishment of the Grade I listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library, enhancing and protecting the building for future generations.
  • Preston Pop Ups - £1m pop-up programme of events bringing together new temporary event space, artworks and improvements to public realm infrastructure, aimed at boosting visitor activity in the Harris Quarter.