Plan to convert former casino into restaurants at Northampton's Sol Central put on ice

Sol Central was due to receive a major renovation to increase the amount of restaurants there, but the site owners have decided to defer the plans.
Sol Central was due to receive a major renovation to increase the amount of restaurants there, but the site owners have decided to defer the plans.

Plans for a "major reconfiguration" of Sol Central in Northampton have been put on hold due to what its owners say is a "slowing" in the leisure market.

Back in September, Palace Capital submitted a planning application to Northampton Borough Council to convert the former Gala Casino site in Mare Fair to restaurant use.

Sol Central owners Palace Capital submitted plans to convert a former casino into restaurants last year.

Sol Central owners Palace Capital submitted plans to convert a former casino into restaurants last year.

The firm bought Sol Central in June 2015 for £20.7 million and promised to invest heavily in revamping the 200,000 square ft site.

But a trading update released yesterday has revealed the London-based property firm is putting the full revamp on ice.

The statement read: "Due to the leisure market slowing somewhat since last summer, the company is deferring its major reconfiguration but is going ahead with installing a new roof and implementing a major lighting scheme for this building."

The rest of the trading report speaks positively of the site, however.

The owners claim to have received £600,000 in rent from the hotel operators Accor, adding that the property is providing shareholders with a "satisfactory return".

The company has also engaged a "major firm of parking consultants" to consider whether it is capable of increasing revenue from the car park.

"The consultants have monitored the car park for several months and have made recommendations," the statement reads. "As a result, there is potential for a major increase in revenue in the second half of the current financial year."

The planning application for Sol Central, which houses a Vue cinema, aimed to "give it a fresh impetus and improve the eating out experience” there according to the company's chief executive Neil Sinclair.

But it was submitted just weeks after the borough council announced that a cinema complex would form part of the new Greyfriars development less than half a mile away.