Topping out ceremony at Preston’s £45m+ Animate leisure complex   

A topping out ceremony has been held to mark the highest point of the build at Preston’s Animate leisure complex, the latest milestone in the £45m+ scheme, one of six major projects planned under Preston’s Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme.  


Preston was awarded £20.9m from the Government’s national Towns Fund initiative in March 2021, and the Harris Quarter is a unique part of the city centre undergoing a £200m investment programme to transform its historic buildings, sites and public realm into a diverse culture, leisure and employment offering. 


Animate is being brought forward by Maple Grove Developments, part of Preston-based contractor Eric Wright Group, in partnership with Preston City Council. 


The leisure complex is being built on the site of the former indoor market and car park and due to open to the public in early 2025. 


Almost fully pre-let, Animate will feature an eight-screen cinema, 16-lane bowling alley with gaming zone, five family restaurant units, a food hall, public realm, a competitive socialising unit and 164-space basement car park, with national leisure brands including


Hollywood Bowl, ARC Cinemas, Zizzi, Cosmo, Las Iguanas and Loungers already signed up as tenants. 


Those attending the topping out included Cllr Yakub Patel, mayor of Preston City Council, Adrian Phillips, chief executive of the city council and Karen Hirst, managing director of Maple Grove Developments.


Councillor Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council, added:  

“Animate is the flagship project of the Harris Quarter regeneration programme, heralding a new era for Preston and its residents. Owned by the city council to benefit local people, the construction of Animate has involved local contractors and enhanced the skills and learning of young people with essential on-the-job experience. Crucially, such development and regeneration forms a key part of the council’s commitment to Community Wealth Building, designed to create a resilient and inclusive economy to benefit the whole area by offering an opportunity for local people to take back control while working with local institutions.” 


John Chesworth, chair of Preston Towns Fund Strategic Board, said:  “The topping out represents another key moment in the delivery of Animate and in the ongoing renaissance of Preston as we progress our wider plans to create places for people. Having secured high-profile and established national leisure brands, Animate will provide an unrivalled offering of activities to drive footfall and wider economic benefits for Preston and surrounding areas.” 


Karen Hirst, managing director of Maple Grove Developments, development partner of Preston City Council, concluded: “This milestone in the delivery of Animate marks the highest point of the build and the successful culmination of the collaborative efforts of the client, design, and construction teams. Animate is an exemplar of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together in partnership to great effect for the wider community and economy of Preston.” 


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