Business

Willmott Dixon working on big cinema and art centre extension

Willmott Dixon has been contracted to work on the redevelopment of Leicester’s Phoenix cinema and art centre.

The project, which has been procured via SCAPE – one of the UK’s leading public sector procurement authorities and is being funded by a number of major public and private organisations – includes new creative and education spaces, two new cinema screens, a bigger café bar and roof terrace with accessible toilets and lifts.

Parts of the current building – which was built in 2009 by the Willmott Dixon team – will also be refurbished to create new office and foyer spaces, and extend the existing digital arts gallery.

Willmott Dixon is working on £6.7 million of the overall £8.7 million project.

Nick Heath, is director at Letchworth Garden City-based Willmott Dixon.

He said: “We’re very excited about being awarded this project and extending Phoenix even further. The venue has proven to be an invaluable asset to the local community in Leicester – acting as a collaborative hub for filmmakers, artists, and creative businesses, which has facilitated job creation and economic output for the city’s creative industries.

“The build has also played a huge role in the area’s digital economy, attracting national funding and supporting initiatives to boost local tourism, so we’re incredibly proud to be a part of its continuing success.

“Client satisfaction is incredibly important to the Willmott Dixon team and we always strive to deliver projects on budget, on time and to the highest possible standard.

“Being awarded another phase of works following completion of the initial build twelve years ago highlights how this standard has been embedded within the company for more than a decade.

“We can’t wait to collaborate with the Phoenix team again and to bring even more creative benefits to Leicester city centre.”

Throughout the project, Willmott Dixon will be working with Phoenix management to ensure the venue remains operational and that the construction work causes minimal disruption to the occupants of the residential apartments housed within the existing building.

Mr Heath said: “This project will present some challenges – such as its city centre location and the close proximity of residents, as well as the site remaining live throughout the programme of works – but our experienced operations teams will be working alongside the client to find solutions that allow the project to run as seamlessly as possible.

“Having said that, the project offers some exciting sustainability opportunities too.

“In line with our company commitments, the extension building will target a BREEAM Very Good rating and we will be installing electric car charging points for teams to use throughout construction works.

“We have also already conducted a low carbon technology feasibility assessment, which will help the building incorporate the best fitting renewable energy sources.

“This has helped confirm plans for a green roof – making home to a biodiversity spot within the heart of the city.

“It’s been an incredibly challenging year for the creative industries, so we want to do everything we can to ensure that the extension works don’t have a negative impact on footfall for the venue.

“Working alongside communities and engaging with local people is something Willmott Dixon really prides itself on, so we’ll be in constant communication with Phoenix’s stakeholders to ensure the works don’t disrupt the facility’s ability to operate as usual.”

Leicester City Council is helping to fund the project in the hopes that it will restimulate the local creative sector following a difficult year in lockdown.

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