Do we need another cinema in Northampton? Sol Central owners react to Greyfriars plans

The owners of a leisure complex near to Northampton's train station say there is no need for another cinema in the town - in the week the council backed plans that could see an eight-screen multiplex built at nearby Greyfriars.

Friday, 2nd September 2016, 8:36 am
Updated Friday, 2nd September 2016, 9:41 am
Greyfriars by drone. Pictures courtesy of Jamie Cooper Photography.

On Tuesday, the borough council announced its preferred scheme for the four-acre former Northampton Bus Station land after a shortlist of two had gone out to consultation.

It means that, should cabinet approve the move, an as-yet-unnamed developer will press on with plans to put either a leisure hub with a new multiplex cinema of up to eight screens, or a family entertainment centre and trampolining facility on the land.

The ‘scheme one’ plan would also see casual dining restaurants, retail kiosks, flats, student apartments, a gym, a 110-bed four star hotel and a new coach station built.

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The car free zone between Grosvenor Centre and the 'Greyfriars Quarter' as envisaged by developers behind Scheme 1.

But the boss of Palace Capital, which owns Sol Central in Horse Market, says there is no need for another cinema nearby.

Sol Central features its own 10-screen cinema operated by Vue - the Chron can reveal it is set for radical expansion plans.

Palace Capital chief executive Neil Sinclair said: “I am not against developing Greyfriars, but I want it to be complimentary to Sol Central.

“If you bring in a cinema and a lot of restaurants you are in complete competition.”

The car free zone between Grosvenor Centre and the 'Greyfriars Quarter' as envisaged by developers behind Scheme 1.

Mr Sinclair said Palace Capital was looking to submit a planning application today to “revitalise” the Sol Central and create upwards of 200 jobs.

It comes as analysis of the Greyfriars consultation shows that around 100 people filled out feedback forms in relation to the two proposals.

And it appears people in Northampton had lukewarm feelings towards another cinema complex.

One respondent wrote: “Don‟t see the need for another cinema when we already have the Erroll Flynn. If we have to have another cinema, would prefer the family offer.”

Another said: “I see no reason for another cinema. Why would people use this leisure hub when existing facilities such as Trilogy, Sixfields, Vue and others are available?”

Scheme one does, however, offer a choice between the cinema and a family entertainment centre.

Leader of Northampton’s Labour Group, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) says she would also prefer the latter.

She said: “I think we had the opportunity to take a risk with this site, but this is a real play-it-safe development.

“I am not at all convinced we need another cinema, families are crying out for more leisure facilities for children in Northampton.”

What do you think about the plans? Would you rather see the cinema built or a family entertainment centre and trampolining park?