A NEW £6.5m eight-screen cinema in Blackburn will now open in time for Christmas, according to bosses.

The £6.5million Reel Cinema in Blackburn town centre is part of an ambitious project to regenerate Blakey Moor and the town’s night-time economy.

The long-awaited site was set open its doors in November after some delays.

And now bosses say the opening date has been pushed back again, but they remain committed to a mid-December opening.

Muhammad Faisal, Reel Cinemas’ head of perations, said: “It was our hope to open during November however construction work has been held up slightly (but necessarily) for health and safety reasons with regards to COVID-19 but we’re on track to open our doors prior to Christmas.

“We are delighted to be a key part of the redevelopment of the Northgate area and are enjoying working with the local council to maximise the impact of the development.

“We have a great relationship with the council and are grateful for their support in bringing Reel Cinemas to their town.”

The new Blackburn cinema comes hot on the heels of recent Reel openings in the region in Chorley, Rochdale and Burnley and underlines the company’s belief in the potential for business in Lancashire.

It comes after Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive members discussed the cinema moving to the town centre on the site of the former Waves Swimming Pool.

It said: “Construction works for the new cinema and under-croft car park will be completed by October 2020.

“Reel Cinema will then commence their fit-out works from October and will complete these works for a December 2020 opening. “

It also says that work is progressing with the adjacent Jubilee Square Public Realm and Highway works and these are scheduled to be complete by December 2020.

Among the other news at the meeting included the council agreeing to extend the lease with Reel from 20 to 25 years.

Cllr Phil Riley, who is charge of regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic is having an effect on leisure activities and that is the same with the cinema and have to take care as precautions when they open.

“We are excited about extending the lease and it shows the commitment Reel have put into the town."