Could a new cinema in Colne's redeveloped market be 'coming soon'?

Colne Market
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)

Colne market hall is being redeveloped with government Levelling-Up funding, along with Colne theatre spaces including the Municipal Hall and Pendle Hippodrome.

Market proposals include a new indoor food hall area, a new glazed frontage and a redesigned indoor stalls area. Traders are being relocated during the works and a new operator is being sought to manage the site.

Originally, the market hall revamp ideas included a cinema, according to a Pendle Council report. But it was not part of later proposals. However, there may be further phases which could again include a cinema.

Councillors on Pendle's Colne Area Committee are due for an update on Levelling-Up schemes on Monday, July 8. A report to councillors gives some brief updates.

Regarding the market hall, it states: "Works on the site are continuing. Asbestos removal has started and the canopy at the front has been dismantled and removed. Other internal and external strip-out work is continuing. Options for the internal layout to accommodate the low ceilings at the front of the market hall are under development and should be complete in July."

It adds: "Quarterbridge Consultants are still in the process of finalising their report on the future operation of the market. An advanced draft version has been circulated. The project team continue to review proposals for future phases to satisfy more-fully the original Levelling-Up Fund bid for more accommodation and a cinema. The team is also looking at the feasibility of relocating the outdoor market to Hartley Square during the work."

Drawing of updated plans for Colne market hall
Drawing of updated plans for Colne market hall -Credit:Pendle Council

Regarding theatre upgrades, the report states: "Work is nearing completion and under budget on the Hippodrome Theatre with handover scheduled for early July, a little ahead of the original programme. Works at the Municipal Theatre continue with the completion scheduled by August 22, in time for the Blues Festival."

In June, Pendle councillors on the executive were told the council was searching to find £700,000 of its own money to complete upgrades at The Muni after running out of Levelling-Up cash. Councillors heard work done to date had breached an original budget funded by the government. But after major structural work, more activity was needed to finish the venue

Questions were raised about the original financial support amid claims the project has been 'hamstrung' by not getting enough Levelling-Up money. Until recently, councillors were advised the Muni project was within budget. But 'very recently', it emerged that it has become now over-spent and further cash is needed,

Speaking at the executive last month, Lib-Dem Coun David Whipp, deputy leader of Pendle Council, said he was 'flabbergasted' with the financial news. He had warned from the start that the Levelling-up scheme in Colne was 'grossly under-funded', he said. He said Pendle Council under the previous Conservative administration bid for £6.5million but the average allocation from the government in that round was £16.5million.

He added: "Wherever we look at the Colne schemes, we see there was inadequate consideration of what the true costs would be." The market hall scheme had been 'hamstrung by inadequate funding' too, he added. But Conservative Coun Nadeem Ahmed, a former council leader, said: "I think we need to look at why we bid for £6.5million at the time? What was the reason and what advice were councillors offered?"