AMBITIOUS proposals which will see the second floor of the Concourse Shopping Centre redeveloped to create a ten pin bowling alley, an indoor mini golf course and an amusements arcade with dodgems, have been validated by West Lancashire Borough Council.
News of the ‘WonderWorld’ scheme’s progression comes as West Lancs reopens again after lockdown and the Skelmersdale regeneration scheme forges ahead.
The plan for WonderWorld also includes an inflatable obstacle course with toddler play area; a bar, with recreational space and pub games; and an American style diner, in the coming weeks.
This complex would also include electronic darts, cocktail bar with performance stage, and a digital area with VR room and 4D cinema.
The complex would be open from 10am to 11pm seven days a week and employ 45-60 staff in a mix of full and part-time hours.
The proposals were first highlighted on the Champion’s Facebook page in February and came after it was announced that a two-screen cinema (Ultra Star Cinema) would be arriving at the shopping centre on the ground floor.
The council has said the WonderWorld scheme will “enhance the leisure offer” within Skelmersdale and the Borough as a whole and “go towards a key strategic aim of the Council” to “make Skelmersdale a leisure, recreational and retail centre of excellence within the North West.”
The amusements arcade and dodgems will be similar to the Namco Funscape at the Trafford Centre, which is a very popular attraction. Cont. inside
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The applicant has already “made arrangements with respective suppliers for the delivery of the proposed entertainment facilities” which include AMF Bowling, which has centres all over the country, and Airparx (inflatable obstacle course).
David Halliwell, director of Lancashire-based Moorgate Developments, said in February when the scheme was launched: “The key attractions we found provided us with the potential to develop the Concourse into a more diverse attraction that caters for people to have fun even when the weather is bad, and to meet the escapist needs of the entire family from toddlers to grandparents. It will be possible to spend all day in WonderWorld with friends and family and be entertained.”
The Ultra Star Cinema development is the town’s first cinema for 38 years. It is aimed to be an “affordable experience” with tickets averaging just £5. Each auditorium will contain 125 seats with comfortable, Italian high-back chairs and 1.5 metre spacing between rows. Asif Sahil, managing director of Ultra Star Cinema, has said: “This is our first cinema project and we want to get it right.
“We wanted to come to Skelmersdale because of the regeneration plans that are planned for the town and the Concourse Shopping Centre was the perfect space for what we envisaged.”
It is hoped the cinema will create up to 16 full-and part-time local jobs.
The Concourse’s second floor is mainly vacant and there was a single open space, once occupied by the market, which is now vacant. Many of the remaining areas on the second floor were once used as storage areas for the units in the centre, but are also vacant. A number of retail units and community assets have closed at the centre over the last decade.
The WonderWorld application states that the proposed development is “unique” to the Skelmersdale area with the only similar facilities located in Wigan and Liverpool town/city centres. This complex would be “the only one of its kind within the West Lancashire Borough” and would provide a boost to the local area in terms of community leisure facilities as well as financial investment and employment.
According to the planning documents the attractions will be arranged around a central ‘street’ “which shall form the primary route from the existing escalator and stairs within the primary lobby area to the secondary escalator located in West part of the shopping centre.
“The ‘street’ shall wind around the various leisure and entertainment facilities, starting at the existing lobby with the indoor mini-golf and culminating at the western access to the shopping centre with the proposed 12 lane bowling alley.
“The central area of the leisure complex shall include an eating and drinking area, composed of an American diner, food stalls with informal seating and a bar area.
“Adjacent areas to the main open second floor area shall be converted to allow an inflatable obstacle course with associated facilities, and a digital entertainment area include VR and 4D cinema experiences.”