THE first restaurant looks poised to sign up to the council’s flagship £139 million town centre regeneration scheme in what has been labelled as a ‘massive coup’.

Time Square – which will feature a Cineworld multiplex cinema, permanent market hall, council offices and a public square – is planned to officially open in early 2020.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden delivered an update during Monday’s executive board meeting before members approved a lease deal for the first restaurant.

The name of the company and terms of the deal were discussed in part two in private.

Cllr Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) also told members securing the first restaurant ‘with this profile in the current market’ for a council-led project would be seen as a ‘massive coup’.

“It is moving on at a pace, the rate of construction of the buildings in the Time Square programme is incredible,” he added.

“We have seen the pressure, nationally, on some chains in relation to the restaurant sector and in terms of commercial leisure.

“We have a strong potential offer there, in terms of a market leader within that sector.

“I think this is effectively a second anchor tenant which experience shows on other schemes will draw other operators in.

Warrington Guardian:

How the town centre could look after Time Square is completed

“It is the right offer, right now, in terms of securing Time Square and giving confidence as we move into the last year of the programme.”

The authority says it has widened the type of restaurant operator it is looking to attract – from larger national chains to more ‘niche and innovative operators’.

It adds that a number of targets confirmed they will be ‘much more interested’ if the proposed operator signed up.

During Monday’s meeting, Cllr Dan Price, executive board member for culture and partnerships, praised former leader Cllr Terry O’Neill’s leadership over the project – an approach he believes the current administration ‘continues to take’.

He said: “Time Square was always about more than just a cinema, restaurant, offices and market.

“It was very much around making the town centre a destination and somewhere that people would want to live and somewhere that the whole of the borough, all of our residents, would be proud of.

“I think regardless of the difficulties the restaurant industry has been facing recently, it is working because there are plans to deliver – either recently or what’s about to come on stream – over 1,000 new homes in the town centre.

“Those are not magic plans, those are plans that are actually going forward.

“I see this as the first exciting announcement in regards to the restaurants but I am fairly certain there are many more to come in the months ahead and look forward to reading about them.”

Time Square is planned to become home to seven restaurants.