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Another delay for opening of Grantham cinema

Grantham’s new cinema now looks set for a summer launch.

The opening of the development in St Catherine’s Roadhad provisionally been set for Easter.

The five-screen cinema will be operated by Savoy.

News of the delay was revealed at a full meeting of South Kesteven District Council on Thursday, when former town mayor Ian Selby highlighted its rising cost over the years.

Coun Selby (unaligned) said when the cinema build proposal first came to council, its cost was budgeted at around £4 million and then it rose to £5.4 million.

Then, a further £1.6million was needed for the surrounding ‘public realm’ - a project to create a walkway to the multiplex from St Peter’s Hill plus a new square by the museum and Guildhall.

Coun Selby continued: “I remember Coun [Jacky] Smith saying she had enough money to complete the project.

“Now, we are being told for the building we need the budget to increase from £5.4 million to £6.2 million.”

He added: “How many more times are they going to come back and ask for more?”

Coun Smith said the cinema scheme was inherited from the previous council and earlier figures did not account for the public realm. The scheme also changed to accommodate a coffee shop and restaurants.

She told the meeting: “We have been careful with the money we have spent. Unfortunately, as with all projects, costs do go up from time to time. I have kept a tight rein.”

Coun Smith said an “exciting” part of the complex was higher education facilities upstairs, with courses run in conjunction with Grantham College, the University of Lincoln and Lincoln-based Bishop Grosseteste University.

“That will bring a higher education facility into Grantham that will benefit business and young people,” she added. “It will also be of great benefit to attract potential businesses to set up here.

“I had hoped to announce a date today for the handover to Savoy but it’s the legals that hold things up.”

SKDC deputy leader Kelham Cooke explained £700,000 would now be spent fitting out educational facilities upstairs, but this will be more than offset by a £2 million government grant.

He said: “When we set out with the cinema, we never anticipated this. We are reducing our input by £1 million.”

Coun Cooke said he expected a handover to Savoy in a few weeks, to fit-out the interior, with the opening in a few months.

Pushed further, Coun Smith said: “I would say August is more likely.”

Coun Cooke added: “We are working for the completion of the public realm around mid-June. I would expect the cinema open around the same time.”

After the meeting, a council spokesperson said: “The building work for the shell of the new cinema complex in Grantham is due for completion in the spring.

“At that point, the outfitting of the cinema element of the building will be handed over to Savoy, as a tenant of South Kesteven District Council. Savoy is then responsible for the management and delivery of this phase of the project.

“Work on the new public square and paving to improve access to the cinema complex and provide a place for residents, visitors, and businesses to enjoy is due to be completed by South Kesteven District Council at the end of June.”

On announcing the cinema plans back in 2014, a likely completion date of autumn 2015 was given, a date which has been pushed back several times since.

Six months after taking the role of leader of SKDC in 2017, Coun Matthew Lee voiced to his cabinet his concerns over the impression such delays create. He said: “We need to stop talking and start doing.

“We must always get on with clear deadlines and get it done for the community.”

Construction of the new Grantham cinema is well under way. (6777633)
Construction of the new Grantham cinema is well under way. (6777633)

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