Could Newmarket finally get a town centre cinema?
PUBLISHED: 10:54 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:31 05 March 2019
A new cinema and restaurant complex could finally be built in Newmarket’s town centre after a report highlighted strong local demand and interest for the project.
The outline business case for bringing a cinema to Newmarket will be discussed by Forest Heath district councillors on March 12, with recommendations that plans are taken to the next stage.
The report suggests a cinema and restaurant complex could be built in the town, with the preferred site at the Guineas Shopping Centre.
The business plan suggests that while the cinema scheme is viable and would bring benefits to the town and local economy, it may require the council to take the lead on providing a level of financial support for the project.
The outline business case is the result of essential viability studies commissioned in 2017, which confirmed that there is strong local demand and that operators are interested in running a cinema.
A planning application for the project could be submitted later in the year should councillors approve recommendations for a final business case to be funded.
Lance Stanbury, cabinet member for planning and growth, said: “It is clear that a cinema and food and beverage development would support this major town and safeguard its future as a retail and leisure destination by developing the evening economy and creating increased footfall and new business opportunities.
“The viability studies show that there is a market, have identified a preferred site at the Guineas and have brought forward expressions of interest from several operators.
“Local Newmarket residents have long campaigned for a cinema in Newmarket and I’m very pleased that this council may soon be delivering this project for the town.”
Out-of-town cinemas have been proposed in the past, but have failed to get approval due to the potentially harmful impact on the town centre.
Mr Stanbury added: “Councils can take the lead where the market may not, for the wider economic and social return. We are asking the council to consider this in funding a final business case to be delivered in late autumn.”
Steven Edwards, cabinet member for resource and performance, said: “To ensure taxpayers’ money is used prudently, we are asking that a recommendation is made to council for £210,000 to fund detailed traffic, car parking and other studies, that will give the fine detail needed to cost a project to make a planning application and to negotiate with potential partners.
“We are not asking council to agree the multi-million pound investment now, without the full picture. This would follow, depending on the final business case.”