Doncaster town centre cinema set to go ahead

An artists impression of the planned cinema
An artists impression of the planned cinema

Work finally looks set to start on plans to develop a Doncaster town centre cinema complex - a year after it was due to open.

Doncaster Council's cabinet has given the go ahead for the authority's officers to get on with finalising the scheme, and enter into a lease with operators for both the cinema and nearby restaurant units.

Officers have been told they can press the button to start building the complex once the cinema operator and other tenants have agreed to get on board and there is enough contracted income to cover costs.

A six screen, 1,600 seat cinema and four restaurants were originally due to be opened in spring 2016 alongside the existing Cast theatre in Sir Nigel Gresley Square.

It would have formed part of the £300 million Civic and Cultural Quarter but three years after plans were first announced, the land remains vacant.

Officials hope to have the cinema and restaurants complex built by September 2019 - with the project also creating up to 180 new jobs.

Council assets survey Simon Maxton said the council had already taken similar action with the Herten Triangle, at Lakeside, which it is developing itself.

He said the cinema firm Savoy was still interested in the Waterdale scheme, but the project needed to be progressed.

He added: "We have commercial interest for the restaurants."

Mayor Ros Jones said after the meeting she expected the cinema and restaurants would generate income for the council.

She said: "It is important it will create a sum in income from the business rates it generates and it will create jobs - growth and jobs are what the borough requires and wants."

Business leaders have pledged their support to the plans to build the cinema complex .

Dan Fell, chief executive at Doncaster Chamber, said: "The plan to develop a cinema and series of restaurants in the centre of Doncaster has the Chamber’s full support and endorsement.

"This scheme will create an increased footfall in the town centre which will be a boon to many local businesses; crucially, this will also help Doncaster diversify its evening economy."

A report which went before Tuesday's cabinet meeting stated: "This undeveloped site, once completed, will provide the citizens of Doncaster with a secure income stream, a new leisure venue, around 180 new jobs and encourage use of the surrounding leisure facilities by the increase in visitor numbers."

The cinema scheme was originally part of a original agreement between the council and the developer, Muse.

But the report states that the scheme stalled due to "Muse being unable to make it work commercially"

However, this agreement has now come to an end freeing up the council to step in and push forward with the plans.

The scheme already has planning permission and the authority would act as landowner, funder, developer and landlord of the completed development.

The idea would be to sell the cinema complex to the Savoy Cinema Group while five restaurant units would be retained by the council and let out. The report states it would also yield more than £500, 000 in business rates for the council.

The scheme already has £634, 000 earmarked from the Sheffield City Region Infrastructure Fund but the report adds there is "still a lot of work to do to finalise the total cost."

It is estimated the site could have a lifespan of around 50 years.