WORK on a long-delayed revamp of Cramlington town centre – including the creation of a multiplex cinema – could get under way as soon as next year, according to the developer behind it.
Revised proposals for a redevelopment of the Manor Walks shopping centre expected to cost tens of millions of pounds will go on show this week.
It is now four years since Hammerson first unveiled plans to do up the shopping mall, but little progress appeared to have been made since then.
That could be about to change, however.
It was back in 2007 that the News Post Leader revealed the London-based property developer’s ambitious plans for the town centre including proposals to open restaurants, bars and even an ice rink.
In March last year, though, the recession led Hammerson to put all its UK developments on hold, and one year on, after seemingly little headway had been made in the meantime, it was urged to get a move on by Cramlington Town Council.
Now, in response to feedback generated by a consultation exercise in 2008 highlighting the need for more leisure facilities, Hammerson is about to display proposals to build a new cinema, together with family restaurants and cafés.
Project manager John Grinnell said: “A cinema will provide the town with a vital daytime and evening economy that it currently lacks and create all-important new local jobs.
“A great deal of work has gone on behind the scenes since 2008, and this will act as a catalyst for further improvements across Manor Walks and Cramlington.
“The revised plans will site the cinema on the existing car park and will see the demolition of the Floors-2-Go building.
“We will then be able to provide improved and increased parking on site.
“We want the residents of Cramlington to come and look at these plans and have their say on what they think about them.
“We want the public to help shape what we do in Cramlington.
“We are delighted that we have had a lot of interest from national and international cinema operators, and we are very excited about the future.”
The identity of the cinema chain expected to take over the proposed unit has yet to be confirmed.
Mr Grinnell said it was hoped that a planning permission application could be put together within the next two months, with a view to work beginning early next year, if the project is given the thumbs-up by Northumberland County Council.
Cramlington town councillor Wayne Daley, also a county councillor, said: “We have seen it before. I think it is really important that Hammerson actually do something about it this time.
“Four years ago, the public of Cramlington were let down, because nothing has happened, so I really hope this time it does happen, and they bring the shopping centre up to what it should be.”
The outline proposals will be put on display opposite Home Bargains and Yorkshire Trading in Manor Walks tomorrow from noon to 5pm and on Saturday from 10am to 2pm.
Members of the project team will be available to talk through the proposals and answer questions.
Hammerson has also set up a community information line, open from 9am to 5.30pm on weekdays, on 0800 652 3367 and is taking e-mailed queries at firstname.lastname@example.org