Cinema plan added to city centre development

First published in Countywide news

A MULTI-million pound scheme to redevelop part of the centre of Chelmsford now includes plans for a cinema.

The Weekly News reported last August more than 800 jobs could be created as a John Lewis At Home store, about 20 shops and up to five restaurants, could be built in the city.

The plan, which also included a basement car park, was for a redevelopment of land behind the Gap store to the east of the High Street.

The land is currently used as a car park and office space, which is empty.

The plan was given the thumbs up by Chelmsford Council last year, but a new application is now likely to supersede it.

Developers Aquila Developments hope to tweak the scheme and build a major retail unit, larger than the one previously given permission, in a two and three-storey block which will include shops and restaurants.

The aim is also to have a cinema on the 2.2-hectare site.

This would operate alongside the existing Odeon in Kings Head Walk.

Paul Hirst, managing director of Aquila, which is based in Chelmsford, said he wasn’t yet ready to comment as finishing touches were still being put to the proposal.

Last week, the company was told by Chelmsford Council an environmental impact assessment was not needed.

The assessment looks at possible positive or negative impacts a project may have on the environment, but given the location of the scheme there will be minimal environmental impact.

A report from the council said: “The development would result in potential social and economic impacts, both temporary and permanent on the local area. “These would include the effect of additional retail floorspace on the remainder of the city centre and potentially, Chelmsford’s wider retail role, and employment.”

When the original application was given approval last year an ambitious timescale was given and it was hoped the new shops would be open for business in 2014.

Although the latest application may delay the project, shoppers will be boosted by the news that a new Primark store is opening in High Chelmer shopping centre in September.

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