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Next step for Newmarket cinema as councillors agree funding for final business case

PUBLISHED: 15:35 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:35 21 March 2019

Left to right: Forest Heath cabinet members Andy Drummond, David Bowman, Lance Stanbury, Ruth Bowman and James Waters Picture: FOREST HEATH DISTRICT COUNCIL

Left to right: Forest Heath cabinet members Andy Drummond, David Bowman, Lance Stanbury, Ruth Bowman and James Waters Picture: FOREST HEATH DISTRICT COUNCIL

Archant

Plans to bring a long-awaited cinema to Newmarket's town centre have been given a boost after £210,000 for a final business case was approved by councillors.

An artist illustration of the Newmarket cinema project. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL/HARRIS PARTNERSHIPAn artist illustration of the Newmarket cinema project. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL/HARRIS PARTNERSHIP

The funding was approved at Wednesday’s Forest Heath District Council meeting, which was the authority’s last before it merges with St Edmundsbury to form West Suffolk Council in April.

Land adjacent to the north end of The Guineas Shopping Centre in the town has been identified as the preferred site for the multi-million pound scheme, which could include a three to four screen cinema along with up to three restaurants.

The complex would occupy council-owned space currently used as surface car parking, near to the multi-storey car park.

MORE: Cinema and restaurant plan to progress in bid to keep high street ‘ahead of the game’

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said the town “deserves a cinema”.

“I am proud that this council’s track record of investing in its communities has never stopped,” he said.

“Newmarket deserves a cinema, but our ambitions go beyond that. We want a greater return for our communities and to create opportunities for businesses to not only support the health of the high street but to also help it evolve.”

The decision to fund a final business case follows viability studies commissioned in 2017, which confirmed that there is strong local demand and that operators are interested in running a cinema.

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.

MORE: Could Newmarket finally get a town centre cinema?

Lance Stanbury cabinet member for planning and growth said the complex could “act as a catalyst” for reinventing the High Street.

“I am delighted by our council’s confidence in the future of Newmarket,” he said.

“The demand for a cinema is clear, the operator interest in a council-led scheme is strong and while the final decision on a multi-million pound investment will lie with the new West Suffolk Council, we are clearing the ground for the council to do what the market may not, and deliver a catalyst for reinventing the High Street.”

The final business case will include traffic studies, a car parking study, and a planning application is expected in late autumn.

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