Ambitious plans to significantly grow the original cinema and leisure complex scheme for Grantham were announced yesterday (Thursday).
Not content with the £5 million project for a six-screen multiplex cinema and restaurants already approved by its cabinet, South Kesteven District Council has unveiled a more adventurous scheme – which, if approved, would see part of its own building demolished.
The council is determined to enhance the day and night time economy of Grantham and to establish the town as a leisure destinationTracey Blackwell
To create its vision of a leisure quarter – taking in the corner of St Catherine’s Road and St Peter’s Hill – SKDC wants to knock down its building facing the green, next door to St Peter’s Hill Surgery and where councillors meet in the chamber.
This would allow the creation of an “attractive pedestrian gateway to and from St Peter’s Hill, with a mixture of new food outlets and office space, all set in an attractive public environment”.
Edith Smith Way is likely to form part of the gateway.
The Guildhall Arts Centre and Grantham Museum will not be affected by the demolition plans.
The council said there is capacity elsewhere within its offices to absorb the space lost.
Strategic director Tracey Blackwell said: “The council is determined to enhance the day and night time economy of Grantham and to establish the town as a leisure destination.
“We believe these proposed developments will stimulate further investment and interest from restaurants including nationally known brands.”
These ambitious plans form phase 2 of the leisure quarter scheme.
The original complex plan – which includes 1,037 seats across the six screens, plus restaurant and office space – is phase 1.
Site preparation work for this first phase is expected to begin in July. Workers will clear the site and carry out surveys and site investigations.
As previously reported, this is made possible by an agreement with the Grantham Senior Citizens’ Club which has a clubhouse on the site proposed for development. Planning permission for a new club has been granted for a site next to the Welham Street car park.
Construction of the cinema is expected to take around a year to complete.
In another turn, Reel, which runs the existing two-screen cinema and was previously confirmed as the provider of the new multiplex, may not now be chosen to take on the new contract.
SKDC has confirmed it hopes to appoint a specialist leisure agency to secure a cinema operator, and also restaurant occupiers.
A spokesman for Reel Cinemas said: “We understand that the council have certain procedures to undertake before the project can go to the next stage, and trust that these can be completed as soon as possible.”
A meeting of the council’s executive on May 9 will be asked to approve the expansion proposal.
The council said it could not yet confirm the cost of phase 2 works as plans have not yet been drawn up. The cinema complex is expected to cover 15,000 feet, with 6,500 sq ft of ground floor restaurant space and 8,000 sq ft of first floor space that could be used for a variety of leisure or office uses.
“We believe that both phases of this development will enhance Grantham’s reputation as a destination and add to the economic vitality of businesses within the town centre,” said Mrs Blackwell.
Darren Joint, chairman of Grantham Business Club, said: “From the details I’m aware of, by providing a link corridor, this revision to the cinema plan addresses some of the concerns which had been raised by local people.
“If this prevents the new development from completely drawing footfall and focus away from existing provision on Wide Westgate, the High Street and the Market Place – then I’d support it.