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Steelwork being installed at Preston's £45m+ Animate leisure complex

4 July 2023

Steelwork is being installed at Preston's Animate leisure complex, the latest milestone in the £45 million+ scheme, one of six major projects planned under Preston's Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme.

Preston was awarded £20.9m from the Government's national Towns Fund initiative in March 2021, and the Harris Quarter is a unique part of the city centre undergoing a £200m investment programme to transform its historic buildings, sites and public realm into a diverse culture, leisure and employment offering.

An estimated 1,150 tonnes of steel are being used for the new steel frame of Animate, the flagship development of the Harris Quarter. The frame is being erected in multiple phases, with each section built sequentially rather than being constructed floor by floor because of the city centre location of the scheme.

The steelwork follows the recent completion of piling work and construction of Animate - on the site of the former indoor market and car park - is expected to complete in late 2024.

Almost fully pre-let, Animate will provide an eight-screen cinema, 16-lane bowling alley with gaming zone, five family restaurant units, a street food hub, public realm, a competitive socialising unit and 164-space undercroft car park, with national leisure brands including Hollywood Bowl, ARC Cinemas, Zizzi, Cosmo, Las Iguanas and Loungers already signed up as tenants.

Chair of Preston's Towns Fund Strategic Board, John Chesworth, said: 

"The ongoing erection of the steel frame is the latest landmark in the delivery of Animate and another key moment for the ongoing renaissance of Preston. The Animate complex has already attracted well-respected national leisure brands, that will create an impressive offering of activities to increase footfall to the city, bringing additional economic benefits.

"We continue to make progress with our collective vision for Preston, and momentum is building."

Councillor Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council, added:

"Animate is the flagship project of the Harris Quarter regeneration programme, part of the wider £200m City Investment Programme, heralding a new era for Preston and its residents. Animate will act as the catalyst for the wider city's social, economic and physical regeneration, creating lasting and meaningful benefits for all."

Nick Hague, director at Maple Grove Developments, development partner of Preston City Council, concluded: 

"Animate will be an exemplar of what can be achieved when the public and private sector work together. A huge amount of collaboration between all of the key players has allowed us to reach this latest stage of the delivery of Animate and we're excited to see the installation of steelwork as we continue to deliver this outstanding scheme for the people of Preston."

Further information

Towns Fund - Town Deals

On 27 July 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the Towns Fund would support an initial 101 places across England to develop Town Deal proposals, to drive economic regeneration and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth. See further details of the announcement.

Preston's City Investment Plan is a 15-year vision for Preston, setting out Preston's long-term objectives and strategy to transform the City, targeting resources and aligning public and private sector investments to respond to needs and capitalise on opportunities for positive change.

Preston City Council actively applies and prioritises the principles of Community Wealth Building wherever applicable and appropriate. Community Wealth Building is an approach which aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone. For more information, please see: www.prestoncommunitywealth.org 

Projects included in Preston's £200 million Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme are:

  • 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.

Media Enquiries

Nicole Billington, Preston City Council 01772 906349

Michael Gregory, Limitless PR 07813 006 842

Justin Strong, Limitless PR 07738 556 528

Image caption: left to right - Nick Hague, John Chesworth, Adrian Phillips, Chris Hayward