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

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.

Tuesday, 2nd May 2017, 5:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:57 pm
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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

"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.