Cinema being proposed for key town site

A section of the site at Portland Park in Ashington pictured a few months ago.
A section of the site at Portland Park in Ashington pictured a few months ago.

Northumberland County Council has started working on a development scheme in Ashington that could see a cinema being built in the town.

The Portland Park site may also include eateries and retail stores. The options have been revealed following a consultation event in September.

It had been earmarked for the council’s new HQ, but the new Conservative administration decided to stay at County Hall in Morpeth and upgrade sections of the building after coming into power following the election last May.

An outline planning application is being worked on and this will run concurrently with efforts to identify a cinema operator and companies or individuals interested in the other retail units.

County council leader Peter Jackson gave a statement this week following a recent stakeholder meeting where the next stages in creating a vibrant Ashington town centre that reflects the desires expressed by members of the public during consultation events late in 2017 were discussed.

He said: “We listened to the public in September and the message came over loud and clear that they wanted us to look at a cinema offering to breathe new life into the town by complimenting the existing retail on Station Road.

“It has been over three decades since we had a commercial cinema in Ashington.

“But the studies commissioned following public suggestions show there is some real potential if the town gets firmly behind the idea.

“The next stage for us is to make it as easy a decision as possible for an operator to come here.

“Over 50,000 people live within ten minutes’ drive of Portland Park and over 500,000 visits are made every year to the leisure centre. The feeling of our advisers is that there is a good opportunity therefore to make this happen, though nothing can be guaranteed just yet.

“In addition to the cinema, we were told by the people of Ashington that the previous idea of a few bus stops and no proper shelter was simply not on.

“I agreed entirely and so the scheme that will come forward will include some form of indoor area with public toilets and perhaps a convenience type kiosk that will provide a safe, warm indoor space for those waiting to catch a bus.”