Larger cinema to unlock Dolphin Square stalemate

An artist's impression of what McLaren Life's Dolphin Square development will look like.

An artist's impression of what McLaren Life's Dolphin Square development will look like. - Credit: Archant

CINEWORLD has massively increased the size of its proposed cinema in a deal the developer believes will unlock the Dolphin Square stalemate that has dogged Weston in recent years.

The re-designed cinema aims to cater for more than 12,000 people a week, after agreeing to increase its capacity by more than 40 per cent.

McLaren Life, the firm behind the £45million Dolphin Square regeneration scheme, said negotiating the deal with Cineworld was the ‘key reason’ behind numerous delays to the project.

Several leisure operators have been signed up for years, but a failure to attract any retailers to the development has dented McLaren Life’s progress after building the Premier Inn hotel and the car park in Carlton Street.

Last week Cllr Tony Lake said McLaren Life was in danger of ‘missing the boat’ after plans to revamp the Sovereign Shopping Centre were exclusively revealed by the Mercury.

However this cinema deal looks set to breathe fresh impetus into the scheme.

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Construction on the leisure sector was due to start in late-2013 but many projected start dates have come and gone since.

However McLaren Life believes the Cineworld deal will breathe new life into the project.

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Cineworld has planned an eight-screen cinema with 1,572 seats and it will be one of the first new generation of cinemas, featuring the very latest modern technology.

Alastair Bell, director of McLaren Life, said: “We have spent the past six months working closely with Cineworld to enlarge and update the cinema to incorporate its latest designs.

“It has been an involved process and has been the key reason for the delay to the scheme.”

The cinema has been re-designed to include more legroom for customers and to accommodate new bigger screens, potentially up to 9m high. There is no need to seek planning permission again for the changes.

Cineworld, since signing up to the project when Vue Cinemas pulled out, has been the cornerstone of McLaren Life’s leisure sector.

It will sit alongside national restaurant chains such as Pizza Express, Prezzo, Nando’s and Real China.

Mr Bell added: “This will be one of the first new generation Cineworld cinemas to open and will provide the best modern cinema experience in the South West.

“Now these plans are concluded and set within a legal document, we can progress with the detailed design work in consultation with our contractors to enable a start on site later this year.”

McLaren Life however refused to be more specific on a start date, when quizzed by the Mercury.

Kevin Frost, Cineworld’s property director said: “We are excited about opening the new cinema in Weston and that we have been able to incorporate the revised designs.

“Our confidence in Weston is supported by our decision to increase our seat numbers and expand our offer from seven to eight screens. This means we can make sure our customers get both the film and format choice they are expecting.

“The cinema will also be an opportunity to showcase our latest stadia seating design, initiatives we have taken to enhance the customer journey and experience.

“We want our Cineworld in Weston to be the best place to watch a movie.”

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