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Animate Preston Cinema and Leisure Scheme proposed layout and plans

Animate Preston cinema and leisure complex with Preston Markets on the right

Maple Grove Developments, part of Eric Wright Group, has been appointed by Preston City Council as preferred developer partner for Animate Preston - a new state of the art cinema and leisure scheme in the city centre.

The redevelopment of the former Indoor Market site is a key part of the City Council's strategy for the city centre.

Whilst planning permission was granted in 2016 for a cinema-led scheme, Maple Grove, in partnership with the Council, have progressed plans for a new high-quality design. The new design refines and improves the previously consented proposals into a deliverable scheme, which satisfies occupier demands as well as the long term aspirations for regeneration and sustainability in the City Centre.

What will the scheme include?

The new scheme that is subject to this consultation exercise will include:

  • 8 screen cinema with bar and restaurant
  • 16 lane bowling alley
  • Competitive social unit (suitable for a range of uses)
  • 5 family restaurant units
  • A food hub
  • Public realm improvements
  • 164 space undercroft car park.

Scheme layout

The proposed scheme offers a significant opportunity to create a high-quality development in the Harris Quarter in the northern part of the city centre.

The proposed layout seeks to deliver a vibrant mixed-use scheme which opens on to a new public space around the markets canopy.

Previously consented scheme

A significant change from the previously consented scheme has been to use the existing site levels to create an undercroft car park with the scheme sitting on top of the parking area. This is a more sustainable design with less car parking within the development.

Animate Preston cinema and leisure complex previous designs

The new scheme is also far less imposing on the Market Hall 'square' in terms of scale and sits comfortably within its context.

Good pedestrian links will be created between the scheme and the bus station car park via Old Vicarage.

New proposed layout and floor plans

The new proposed layout and floor plans are shown below:

Animate cinema and leisure complex layout A

Animate cinema and leisure complex layout B

Animate cinema and leisure complex layout C

Ground floor (street level) 

  • Undercroft car park accessed via Tenterfield Street or directly from Ringway
  • The bowling alley access is located on the west side of the building. Servicing area located off Tenterfield Street
  • Changing Places facility is located within the car park and accessed from the existing pedestrian footpath between the site and Lime House

Animate Cinema and Leisure Complex Ground floor (street level) layout

1st floor (upper street level) 

  • 5 restaurant units facing on to a new outdoor public realm area with the main cinema access to the east near to Lancastria House
  • The 16-lane bowling alley unit is located at this level towards the rear of the building

Animate cinema and leisure complex first floor layout plans

2nd floor

  • 8 screen cinema and competitive leisure unit to the rear of the building with the cinema lobby and bar area. Plus a separate restaurant unit overlooking the market canopy

Animate cinema and leisure complex 2nd floor layout plans

3rd floor

  • Cinema bar terrace and games area overlooking the market canopy

Scheme design

A high-quality design that has evolved to be 'uniquely Preston' in its references and façade solution has been created to reflect the important location of the site within the city centre and its location next to the listed market canopy.

The scheme represents an improvement and departure from the previous approved scheme and is lower in height and massing due to the undercroft parking.

A critical part of the design is to respond to the market canopy frontage and Ringway as follows:

Market canopy frontage

Proposed pavilion design with use of a variety of traditional and more contemporary materials along with large glazed areas to provide a dynamic but more measured frontage. This approach is more sympathetic in design and massing to the Market as well as the Historic Town Square within which it sits.

Animate cinema and leisure complex with the markets on the right illustration

Cinema box (facing Ringway)

Dressing the large blank box of the cinema through a contemporary metallic panel in a basket weave pattern, which references Preston's rich history of textile manufacturing and weaving, to provide a more dynamic animated façade which can be lit at night to provide a distinctive reference point in the city centre.

Animate Preston evening view from Ringway looking east illustration

CGI view from Ringway looking east

Animate cinema and leisure day view from Ringway looking east

CGI view from Ringway looking west

Animate Preston cinema and leisure complex view from Ringway looking west


The scheme has been designed to be highly sustainable and includes the following features:

  • Improving the building energy efficiency beyond building regulation and planning requirements
  • 16 electric vehicle charging points, alongside future proofing for more
  • Efficient water and lighting systems
  • Use of recycled building materials
  • Sustainable renewable energy generation through PV panels (on roof)

Public realm

The scheme provides a significant opportunity to improve the existing public realm and create new attractive spaces. In particular, around the market canopy.

The public realm strategy takes its inspiration from the successful works completed elsewhere in the city centre and proposes:

  • A new public square with outdoor restaurant space
  • Quality paving surfaces to complement the existing York Stone
  • Soft landscaping features including trees and terraced planting beds
  • New street furniture (seats, cycle hoops etc) and quality lighting
  • Good quality linkages between the bus station car park and the scheme via Old Vicarage

Animate scheme development landscape
Animate scheme landscape section


The site occupies a highly sustainable and accessible location close to wider amenities within the city centre as well as the bus station.

The proposed scheme comprises the following:

  • Parking for 164 vehicles with disabled parent or child and electric charging points, along with future proofing for more electric vehicles
  • Dedicated motorcycle spaces
  • Secure sheltered cycle parking

Vehicular access is proposed from Tenterfield Street and Ringway as per the circulation plan below.

The new car park will reflect current best designs to create a safe inclusive environment.

Animate scheme vehicular access circulation plan

Key benefits and next steps

Key benefits

The Animate scheme will:

  • Deliver a high-quality leisure destination (cinema, bowling and restaurants) to bring families into the city centre and make Preston the 'place to be'
  • Improve the Harris Quarter and northern part of the city centre by creating a high quality visually attractive scheme, which complements the successful Preston Markets scheme
  • Provide a new high-quality public realm area to socialise
  • Provide an appropriate Changing Places facility
  • Deliver jobs and associated economic benefits to residents and businesses
  • Be part of the Harris Quarter Investment Programme, which will see the regeneration of this part of the City Centre

Animate Preston and surrounding area aerial illustration

Next steps and timescales

Maple Grove Developments and the City Council are committed to delivering the Animate scheme as soon as practically possible.

The current programme is as follows:

  • November 2021 - Planning application submitted*
  • Early 2022 - grant of planning permission
  • Mid 2022 - construction starts on site
  • Early 2024 - Animate opens

*The planning application is informed by a number of technical assessments such as transport, ecology, wind, noise to ensure the proposed development does not create any adverse impacts.


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