New dawn for Northampton's Sol Central? : Owners plan to convert former casino into restaurants

The owners of a Northampton leisure complex have lodged plans to expand into a disused former casino - just days after the announcement of the multi-million pound Greyfriars scheme.

Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 2:48 pm
The owners of Sol Central want to turn the vacant Gala Casino site into restaurants.

Owners of Sol Central - Palace Capital - have now submitted a planning application to Northampton Borough Council to convert the former Gala Casino site in Mare Fair into restaurant use.

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

The planning application this week comes just days after the borough council revealed plans for a leisure hub at the nearby Greyfriars bus station land alongside restaurants and apartments.

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Chief executive of London-based Palace Capital Neil Sinclair said: “We bought Sol Central last year after considerable investigation as we believe Northampton has huge potential.

“Sol Central had not been given the level of investment in recent years required to keep it up to date and relevant, but we are now embarking on the first stage of this with our planning application.

“As a strong institutionally backed company with net assets in excess of £100 million we are in a position to deliver a vibrant revitalised centre to Northampton.”

Sol Central currently includes a Vue Cinema, an Ibis hotel and a Fitness for Less Gym.

If the planning application is approved, Palace Capital says there will be a “reconfiguration” of the vacant Gala Casino space, most of which was previously occupied by Gala Casinos with a “view to attracting new restaurant operators.”

A spokesperson for Palace Capital said: “These are potentially exciting times for Sol Central and for Northampton as since Gala and Marston’s vacated in 2011 footfall has been adversely affected.

“Palace Capital will give it a fresh impetus and improving the eating out experience.”

Sol Central was built in 2001 but in that time the smaller units have never all been open at the same time and some have never had a tenant.

Gala Casino used to be situated on the fist floor, but the chain pulled out of Sol Central in 2011 due to trading conditions, resulting in the loss of 64 jobs.