The expected costs of a council-run cinema scheme in Daventry are set to rise from £8.2million to £12.3million.
The three to four-screen cinema in North Street would be scheduled to open by summer in 2020, with Daventry library, which currently occupies the site, relocating to ‘modern new premises’ at the Abbey Resource Centre in St John’s Square.
But an increase in the scale of the project, to include a new public square and restaurants, has added to the costs of the proposed development at Mulberry Place, while ‘poor ground conditions’ deemed inadequate even for the current use of the site will be expensive to correct, according to Daventry District Council papers.
The authority, which is funding the scheme from its capital reserves, believes the plans would ‘amplify the benefits to Daventry town centre, with usage continuing throughout much of the day and evening’.
It has earmarked the cinema proposals as one of its last main priorities ahead of its likely abolition in 2020 to make way for a new unitary authority council that would merge with Northampton and South Northamptonshire.
But Labour councillor Wendy Randall believes that there are ‘far better projects’ the council could spend the last of its money on.
She said: “They haven’t even got a cinema operator on board yet, and my fear is that this is built and then no-one takes it on.
“It’s a huge, huge risk and there are so many better things they could spend that money on. We have a leisure centre that needs upgrading and a country park that could use that kind of money.”
A planning application has recently been submitted, and Conservative council leader Chris Millar said that there had been interest from ‘two or three cinema operators who are willing to put a bid in’.
He added: “The increased costs are due to the enhanced scale and quality of the scheme.
“This is a chance to change the centre of Daventry to a really high spec. I have been very reassured by the team of officers that they are making sure that we get value for money on this.”
The scheme to redevelop the Abbey, so that the library can be relocated on to the first floor, has also increased in cost from £700,000 to £1.5m, as the ‘scope of the work’ becomes clearer.
Councillors will vote on whether to agree to the revised scheme at the next full council meeting on December 15.