Four-screen cinema and restaurant complex could finally be coming to Newmarket's town centre as Forest Heath Council commits £210,000

Left to right: Forest Heath Cabinet members Cllrs Andy Drummond, David Bowman, Lance Stanbury, Ruth Bowman and James Waters. Picture: SUPPLIED

Left to right: Forest Heath Cabinet members Cllrs Andy Drummond, David Bowman, Lance Stanbury, Ruth Bowman and James Waters. Picture: SUPPLIED

SUPPLIED

It may finally be time for Newmarket's four-screen cinema to get the green light after the council committed more than £200,000 for one last business case.

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

Forest Heath Council “marked its commitment” to the widely-discussed topic of the town’s new cinema and restaurant complex by spending £210,000 on planning and traffic studies.

The planning application is expected to be completed in the late autumn after the traffic and parking studies have been completed.

The plans were recommended to “take a step forward” after viability reports confirmed “there is a strong local demand and interest from operators”.

Cllr James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: “I am proud that this council’s track record of investing in its communities has never stopped.

The Guineas Shopping Centre in Newmarket is the preferred site of the new cinema complex Picture: ARCHANTThe Guineas Shopping Centre in Newmarket is the preferred site of the new cinema complex Picture: ARCHANT

“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.”

Land next to the north end of The Guineas Shopping Centre is the preferred site for the three to four-screen cinema with up to three restaurants.

It would occupy council owned space currently used as surface car parking, adjacent to the multi-storey car park.

Cllr Lance Stanbury, cabinet member for planning and growth, said: “I am delighted by our council’s confidence in the future of Newmarket.

“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.”

The plan suggested that while the scheme “is viable”, it may require a level of financial support to build and would require the council to lead on bringing the scheme forward.

The outline case was the result of viability studies commissioned in 2017, which confirmed that there is strong local demand and that operators are interested in running a cinema.

The financial case for developing a cinema on a town centre site is more challenging, and councillors will hear that delivery would be dependent on Forest Heath District Council taking the lead.

Cllr Stanbury added: “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.

“Local Newmarket residents have long campaigned for a cinema and I’m very pleased that this council may soon be delivering this project for the town.”

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