Councillors have given the green light to ambitious plans for a multi-million-pound leisure complex in Burnley that has been described as a 'great asset' to the borough.
The £26m. Pioneer Place development was given planning permission at last night's meeting of Burnley Council's Development Control committee.
This is a major step towards the scheme for a multi-screen cinema, seven food outlets, two retail units and a 125 car park becoming a reality.
Council leader Charlie Briggs said: "This development will be a great asset to the borough. It will enhance Burnley as a destination for both day and night-time leisure."
The project is earmarked for land at Curzon Street and the former Pioneer Place car park. Negotiations with interested parties have been taking place for months and a council chief said this week that a number of 'national and regional' restaurant operators have expressed an interest in being part of the leisure development.
Mick Cartledge, who is Burnley Council's chief executive, said: "It's very pleasing to see this level of interest in the scheme from some well-known names on the high street.
"We will be able to release further details as and when any deal is done. The aim is to attract high quality names to Burnley to bring in more visitors and boost the local economy."
Seen as a flagship complex, the development will create over 300 jobs and many more during the construction process.
Reel Cinema has already signed on as anchor tenant and will relocate from its current home in Manchester Road to an eight-screen cinema complex within the new leisure and retail park. The cinema will sit alongside seven restaurants, two retail units and a 125-space car park.
And with the growth of the University of Central Lancashire in Burnley and the student population set to grow ten-fold to 4,000 in the next four years the development will be a boost to the town's growing university town status.
Pioneer Place is being developed by Burnley Council in partnership with Preston based developers Maple Grove Developments who aim to be on site this year with key elements finished in 2022.
A report by independent experts said Burnley has ‘punched above its weight’ in terms of maintaining and growing the number of shops in its town centre over the past decade, where other similar towns have struggled.
Andrew Dewhurst, director of Maple Grove, said: “The scheme represents a major mixed-use development which will make a significant contribution to the vibrancy and leisure provision of the town centre.
"Our proposal has been shaped to take advantage of the site’s prominence and proximity to the UCLan/Burnley College campus as well as meeting the needs of known occupiers who are seeking space in the town centre.
"We look forward to forging a strong and effective partnership with Burnley Council as we take forward this important development.”