A six-screen multiplex cinema is planned as the centrepiece of an exciting £6m scheme to regenerate Grantham’s town centre.
The cinema will show all the latest blockbusters and form the focal point of a new leisure and cultural development.
Work could begin by the middle of this year and the likely completion date is summer 2015. It is planned that the new building will be built by landowners South Kesteven District Council and then leased back to businesses which want to run the facilities.
The complex will be built on the existing Reel cinema site in St Catherine’s Road and an extension of the building would see the creation of four new studios, bringing the seating capacity to 950.
The site extends to the entrance to the council’s car park near the Tollemache Inn pub and the existing senior citizen’s club.
SKDC plans to work with organisations to accommodate existing rights of access and help the senior citizens’ club to relocate to new premises, which the council will build behind the current Reel building.
The ambitious development, which is still at an early stage, proposes three restaurants on the side of the cinema building and 21,000 square feet of new office space on the two floors above them.
The development will consider the re-modelling of part of the council’s offices as part of a new cultural quarter for the town.
This means including the courtyard behind the museum and Guildhall arts centre, perhaps as a permanent outdoor performance area. In addition, the development has the potential to create new office jobs as well as employment at the cinema and restuarants.
Council leader, Councillor Linda Neal, said: “We will be seeking budget provision to fund the scheme that has the potential to transform the town into a much more attractive destination.
“When you add in the fact that this project will also regenerate the town, it makes absolute sense for us to go ahead with the work.”
Reel Cinemas managing director KC Suri said that as well as showing all the latest blockbuster films, the fact the development would have six screens would mean that art house and children’s productions, which have always proved popular in Grantham, would also be on offer.
He commented: “We have known for some time we need to improve our offer in Grantham and this multi-million cinema development will bring our ambitions for the town to fruition.”
When questioned by the Journal about what this proposal meant for the Grantham Area Action Plan, which in 2011 revealed plans for a multiplex in the Greyfriars area, a spokesman said it was “still on course”.
However, this appears to be a major departure from the plans drawn up by town planning consultants GVA Grimley as part of the Growth Point situation – Grantham was given the enhanced status in 2007.
Those plans proposed underground parking, shopping, leisure and housing at Greyfriars to support existing business in Market Place and Westgate with ‘primary urban spaces’ to encourage a cafe culture in the town centre.
Now it appears the culture elements of that proposal will be re-located to the opposite side of the town centre at the back of the Guildhall.
The spokesman said: “The GAAP is still very much in place and progressing. This new scheme is part of that. This is an opportunity not to be missed for the town going forward.”
** The multiplex proposal will be considered by SKDC’s cabinet on February 3. Planning permission will be required before any work can begin.