Piling works at major new leisure complex


Maple Grove Developments (MGD) starts work on Preston cinema and leisure complex.

Preston on site piling photo.
Credit: Eric Wright Group.

The £45 million Preston Animate scheme was developed in 2016 and will be built on the site of the old indoor market and car park, next to Preston Markets.

168,000 sq ft leisure scheme will include: 

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

MGD, part of Eric Wright Group, is Preston City Council’s preferred developer partner, first getting involved in 2019. 

Planning permissions were submitted in November 2021 and approved in early 2022. 

Piling is expected to be completed in June, with work on the steel structure starting shortly after. 

Construction began in mid-2022, with all work expected to be completed in late 2024. 


Companies working with MGD and the council to deliver the project include: 

  • Leach Rhodes Walker (architect). 
  • CBRE (planner). 
  • Planit IE (landscape architect). 
  • Civil Engineers (highways consultant). 
  • Gleeds (cost adviser). 
  • Waterman (M&E consultant and structural engineer). 

Muse initially designed the plans for the project when planning permission was granted in 2016, reported North West Place

MGD then developed a redesign that builds upon the previous plan, with a bigger focus on regeneration and sustainability. 

Social value 

The scheme will generate 200 full-time jobs in the construction sector for the local workforce. 

Eric Wright Group’s corporate and social responsibility programme is also providing opportunities for apprenticeship, work placements, training and upskilling. 

Once opened, Animate expects to create 140 long-term jobs.


The project is part of the £200 million Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme, which is part of Preston’s 15-year City Investment Plan.

Preston was awarded £20.9 million from the Government’s National Town’s Fund initiative in March 2021.

The scheme will also include complementary public realm improvements, like improving pedestrian access to Animate from the bus station. 

This comes as part of a wider Harris Quarter Public Realm and Lighting Scheme, which is funded by the council, with support from the Towns Fund (£3.4 million) and City Deal (£3.25 million). 

Lancashire County Council Economic Recovery Grant has awarded £800,000 to the improvement efforts. 

“Animate will be an exemplar of what can be achieved when the public and private sector work together, ” said Nick Hague, director at Maple Grove Developments

“A huge amount of collaboration has taken place for us to reach this point and we’re now very excited to be on-site and delivering this superb scheme for the people of Preston.”

Enjoyed this? Check out Major Stoke-on-Trent city regen set for approval. 

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