A MULTI-MILLION pound development – including a nine-screen cinema and six restaurants – will ‘transform’ Burnley town centre.
The former Pioneer site, which was once a Leos store, has been bought from Burnley Council by leisure and retail developers Terrace Hill.
It is believed the restaurants will be big-name national chains. Plans also include a coffee shop and 287-space car park.
A planning application for the 43,000 sq ft Curzon Street site, once earmarked for the Oval shopping centre before those plans collapsed in March 2012, will be submitted by the end of the year.
And the council and developers will aim to ensure the project is delivered by summer 2016.
The development will be a ‘huge boost’ for the town centre, according to Burnley Council chief executive Steve Rumbelow while chamber of trade president Brian Hobbs said it would add another dimension to the town centre's night-time economy.
Coun Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council, said: “This is excellent news and we will work closely with Terrace Hill to make this happen as quickly as possible.
“It’s part of a far bigger picture of investment in Burnley town centre which will transform the way it looks and make it even more attractive to shoppers and visitors.
“That includes investment by Addington Capital in refurbishing Charter Walk and creating larger stores, the development of town centre student accommodation proposed in the former Burnley College building, new apartments being created in the former courthouse next to the Pioneer site, and the investment in improving the pedestrianised area of St James Street and beyond.”
The site, off Active Way and adjacent to Charter Walk Shopping Centre, has been left as a surface car park since the Oval plans were first mooted in 2004.
The Pioneer Co-op store used to be on the site, but it closed in January 2001 with the loss of 60 jobs.
It was demolished after the North West Development Agency gave a £1.8million grant to buy back the long-term lease from the Co-op so that Burnley Council could be the sole owners.
Mr Rumbelow said: “This is a positive move which would further boost the town centre. This agreement is a statement of intent by the developers that shows they have exciting plans for the site.
“The proposed development of the former Pioneer site is another sign of confidence in Burnley’s future and, a boost for the local economy.”
Mr Hobbs said: “I’m really pleased to see something on that site and it is the right development.
“The town has a good offering for young people and a reasonable day-time and night-time economy, but this will increase that and bring different people into the town to use the cinema and restaurants, which can only be good news.”
This latest acquisition by Terrace Hill follows on from the success it has had in Darlington, on a very similar scheme, where construction will start next month.
Over the last few years a number of high profile developments have been successfully delivered by the developer for Asda, Sainsbury’s and other major companies.
Duncan McEwan, head of retail development at the company, said: “The requirement for alternative developments in town centres is clear as shopping habits have changed, and leisure is the obvious addition that will help to improve the dwell times of shoppers.
“A scheme such as this will bring in families and will provide vibrancy in the evenings and at weekends.
“We are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement with Burnley Borough Council, and are confident that our strong track record in delivering this new offer will add real value to the town, its residents and visitors.”