Plans for a purpose-built cinema complex in Grantham have been altered, to provide more space for eateries and less for business use.
On Monday, South Kesteven District Council’s cabinet approved a plan to spend £4.9 million on redeveloping a site in St Catherine’s Road for a six-screen multiplex Reel cinema and multi-cuisine food court.
The proposal will now go to full council prior to submission of a planning application.
The original plans included 21,000 sq ft of offices over two floors in a three-storey building.
Under the revised scheme there would be 5,800 sq ft in a two storey building.
District council leader Coun Linda Neal said: “Initially we had thought about including a business incubation centre (BIC) on two floors above the restaurants but a detailed study revealed there was not enough space within the scheme to create a realistic and effective facility that could operate at anything near optimal.
“We looked at what would complement and enhance the cinema offer and existing Guildhall Arts Centre and found that the level of interest in restaurant space was strong, in fact more than available space on the ground floor.”
Cabinet members heard the strong interest was from national restaurant chains.
If the planning application is approved, work is expected to start in late autumn.
The complex could form the first phase of a wider development of the area, involving remodelling some council offices to fit within a cultural quarter, including the courtyard behind the museum and Guildhall Arts Centre.
The cinema complex would be built by SKDC and leased to Reel Cinemas, which operates the existing cinema on the site.
The new complex will have six screens – four more than the existing cinema – and 1,037 seats, an increase of around 700. While the work is underway, Grantham will not be without a cinema – the two screens currently running will remain open and will be refurbished once the four new screens are up and running.
Reel Cinemas managing director KC Suri said the increased number of screens would mean they were able to show all the latest blockbusters as well as offering art house and children’s productions.
He added: “This is really good news for Grantham. We have known for a long time that we need to improve our offer and this multi-million pound development will bring our ambitions for the town to fruition.
“It shows Grantham is really on the up.”
During the cabinet meeting, portfolio holder for grow the economy Coun Francis Cartwright said she was “disappointed” a BIC was not financially viable, but added that the private sector was “providing business opportunities in the area, which is very encouraging”.
She later added: “This development will not only improve the offer for local people and those from further afield but also generate around £14 million in economic activity through employment and associated goods and services.”
SKDC said it was working with the senior citizens’ club, which is located next to the current cinema building, to provide new premises at the rear of the complex.