Planning permission granted for multi-screen cinema in Ely...and it could be open by summer next year

A view of the proposed cinema site

A view of the proposed cinema site - Credit: Archant

Councillors gave their unanimous backing to plans for a new multi-screen cinema and restaurants in Ely today (Wednesday).

How the new cinema site could look

How the new cinema site could look - Credit: Archant

Concerns raised by English Heritage about harm to the setting of Ely Cathedral were brushed aside as councillors welcomed the arrival of leisure facilities to the district.

Developer Turnstone said that 280 jobs could be created as part of the development, located in Downham Road, next to the Ely Outdoor Sports Association, with the cinema potentially open by the summer of 2016.

There will be two drive-thru restaurants, as well as up to eight other food outlets. Negotiations are taking place with fast-food chains McDonalds and KFC.

At a meeting of the planning committee, Councillor Mike Rouse said: “This is a long anticipated day and very welcome. It has been 30 years since the Rex cinema closed, somewhere I spent a lot of time in my youth.

“This makes the city more sustainable and caters for future growth. I can’t wait for this to happen.”

Councillor Tom Hunt said: “I think it is absolutely fantastic. Having grown up in Ely myself, it is really very exciting to see this and it will significantly improve the quality of life for our residents.”

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An underpass linking the cinema to the rest of Ely will be lit and monitored by CCTV, Turnstone said, with almost 400 parking spaces available.

The current Ely city service bus route could be extended to cover the new facility, but negotiations are still taking place with the new owner, Stagecoach.

Councillor Gareth Wilson said: “I very much welcome this application, the cinema is required by a lot of people. I think it is a good idea and I look forward to it opening.”

The current entrance to the site will be redeveloped so that it is one way, with an exit-only road created further along Downham Road.

More than 300 people attended public exhibition events in Ely, with a large number expressing support for the plans.

Councillor Derek Beckett said: “It is something to applaud and it is something that will enhance the district.”

Because of the scale of the plans, the final say still rests with the Secretary of State, who will decide whether the plans should be called in for further scrutiny.