Lancashire

Deal signed for cinema in Skelmersdale as part of £20m plan

Reel Cinema Skelmersdale
Image caption Coun Frank McKenna said the scheme is a 'once-in-a-generation opportunity'

An agreement has been reached to bring a new cinema to Skelmersdale as part of a £20m redevelopment plan.

Reel Cinemas has signed a 15-year lease with St Modwen, the developer behind plans for a large retail complex.

The move has angered London and Cambridge Properties, the owners of the town's existing shopping centre, which is threatening legal action.

But West Lancashire Borough Council said blocking the move would be a "betrayal" of local people.

Reel Cinemas is the anchor tenant in the plans which will see 100,000 sq ft of new leisure and entertainment as well as improvements to public spaces and a new high street.

Managing Director Naveen Suri said: "We are 100% committed to the scheme and we will deliver a cinema to Skelmersdale."

A spokesman for London and Cambridge said it was disappointed with the move.

Image caption The owners of Skelmersdale's shopping centre are considering legal action

"The St Modwen's scheme has caused confusion and doubt for operators, who would need to invest significantly and need absolute assurance that there will not be a competing scheme on the doorstep," said a company statement.

But Councillor Frank McKenna, from the Labour-led council, said stopping the plan would be a "betrayal of the people of Skelmersdale as this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity".

He added: "We've had many, many promises in the past, never been able to deliver on them - this will be delivered as long as London and Cambridge stand aside and don't take this to judicial review."

If the plans go ahead, it will be the first cinema in Skelmersdale since the Empire closed on Elson Road in the 1980s.

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