MULTI-million-pound plans to revamp Cramlington’s Manor Walks shopping centre and add a multiplex cinema to it have been given the go-ahead.
The planned complex will create 250 jobs and another 250 people will be employed in building it, Northumberland County Council’s south east area planning committee heard last week.
London-based developer Hammerson intends to build a nine-screen, 1,800-seat cinema on the current south mall car park and revamp six shop units.
An empty petrol station, car showroom and abandoned car wash will be bulldozed to make way for the new development.
The idea is that visitors will be able to shop during the day and spend the evening watching a film or dining out.
Permission for change of use will allow some shop units to be converted into restaurants.
The latest movie technology has been used to reduce the height of the cinema to that of a two-storey house, project director John Grinnell told councillors at Blyth’s Isabella Centre last week.
Three letters and a 25-name petition raised objections about parking, traffic, noise, proximity to homes and the size of the cinema.
Its height has been reduced following pre-application talks by six metres at its northern end and more than ten metres at its southern end.
It is claimed that the cinema would prevent car park noise from reaching nearby houses.
An extra 56 parking spaces will be created by rejigging the South Mall car park, and there will be 18 covered cycle spaces and 18 disabled bays.
Councillors called for the current four-hour time limits on parking to be relaxed to enable people to take in a film after doing some shopping.
Alan Armstrong, ward councillor for Cramlington Village, said: “I am backing this proposal 100 per cent. I think it’s good for the town.”
Mr Grinnell said the company had held extensive consultations with townsfolk and had been told there was a strong desire for a better place to shop and a place for an evening out.
“There is overwhelming public support for creating a proper day out in Cramlington for the first time,” he said.
The two planning applications submitted for the project were approved unanimously.
Work will start on the sites early next year, and the revamped complex and cinema will open in 2013.
After the meeting, Mr Grinnell said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the committee.
“We have worked hard over a number of years, in partnership with Northumberland County Council and the local community, to bring forward these plans.
“The proposals will provide a comprehensive evening leisure offer for all ages and groups, and we look forward to working with people locally as the development progresses.”
Hammerson originally drew up plans to redevelop Cramlington town centre in 2008, but, because of the recession, they have since been scaled down to the current cinema and shopping mall project.