Published Friday 29 June 2018 at 9:16
A new cinema complex in the heart of Blackburn Town Centre is set to be recommended for approval next week.
The Council’s Executive Board are due to rubber-stamp final plans to start developing the former Waves waterfun site in Nab Lane on Thursday, July 5.
Local business leaders have welcomed the development and say it signifies growing levels of confidence in the town from investors and new businesses.
Public consultations revealed that people would like to see the site developed for a cinema.
A competitive tender process was established to find a cinema operator and Independent Reel Cinema was one of four operators shortlisted. They were awarded the contract based on quality and best value.
The cinema complex will be built by the Council but leased to Reel for an initial 20 years. Rent income will cover the development costs and leave the borough owning the building and freehold.
The £6.5m scheme is for a single storey eight-screen cinema incorporating a bar and food and drink units.
It will be complimented by a further £3.5m underground car park and a public realm outdoor space, better linking the Northgate/King George’s Hall/Blackburn College area of town.
Councillor Phil Riley, Executive Member for Regeneration, said:
There are lots of changes happening in Blackburn town centre and we are keen to bring more developments.
The empty space that was the site of Waves is a major town centre space and it is important that the Council keeps control of the site both now and in the future.
We believe this development will provide a huge boost to our regeneration ambitions by bringing lots more people into the town centre and help make Blackburn a destination for cinema goers with a real choice of films and venues.
Reel owner Kailash Chander ‘KC’ Suri said:
We are very excited to be working with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and local partners to deliver a brand new cinema complex for the town centre.
We know that cinemas play an important part in community life and we are keen to reflect this by making sure each cinema is bespoke to each location.
For us we want to provide a positive experience whilst supporting the place and provide something that everyone can be proud and part of.
Jennifer Eastham, Vice Principal (Finance and Corporate Services) at Blackburn College, added:
We are very much looking forward to seeing the site developed to provide more leisure opportunities for our students and the town as a whole.
We will be working with the cinema operators to look at how we can work together. We specifically look forward to the redevelopment of this area which will add to the experience that students have when they attend Blackburn College.
Parking will be free at the multi-storey car park for visitors to the cinema and there will also be electric vehicle charging points.
The new development will help to boost the town centre’s night time economy, following on from the development of the Cathedral Quarter, new bars opening and the new Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage project.
Nicola Clayton, Chair of Blackburn BID, said:
The Business Improvement District are pleased to see the growing levels of confidence in the town from investors and new businesses.
Expanding the leisure offering and the developing night-time economy benefits the town centre as a whole. Along with King George’s Hall, the Townscape Heritage Project around Blakey Moor, and the new bars, cafés & restaurants, this area is set to become a focal point for visitors to the town.
The multimillion pound complex will also feature a bar, restaurant, state-of-the art digital picture, sound auditoriums and VIP seating.
Ian Brown, Chair of the HIVE business network Steering Group, said:
This development and the level of investment shown by Reel Cinemas highlights the growing confidence business has about opening new ventures within Blackburn with Darwen.
Projects like this really show that the Borough truly is open for business, and is a further example of the town`s thriving development.”The cinema complex is expected to be open by Easter 2020.