District council to vote on £8.2m Daventry town centre cinema and restaurant development which could open in November 2020

An £8.2million budget for a Daventry town centre development which will feature a cinema and restaurants looks set to be approved by district councillors.

The Site 1 proposal is one of three "realistically achievable" projects the council is focussing on before the creation of unitary authorities in Northamptonshire.

By delivering the Site 5 project at around the same time as Site 1, the council hopes it will satisfy public demand as well as increase footfall in the town centre.

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“It is recognised that vibrant town centres are increasingly based on leisure activities," said council officer Wendy Thompson.

"The current scheme proposals are built around a cinema, with a number of eating establishments, rather than the original retail-led proposals.

"This is considered appropriate in the light of current public demands for a leisure experience when visiting towns."

The council wants to set aside an £8.2million budget funded from its capital reserves, an amount it would not be able to commit to were it not for the ditching of the Canal Arm project.

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Daventry Library would be relocated to the Abbey building as part of the Site 1 plan, which encompasses land behind High Street, currently including the Primrose Hill, High Street and Brook Street car parks and the library.

A timeline set out in Wendy Thompson's report envisages the planning application being submitted in January 2019, planning permission granted and Daventry library relocated in May 2019, the start of construction in August 2019, and the site opening in November 2020.

Developer Henry Boot, who had been on board the Site 1 project since 2007, has been dropped, with the council now pursuing the project itself.

The global financial crisis, recession, slow growth and changes to the retail market - namely the increase in online shopping - all reduced the demand for new shops, which put paid to the retail development proposals Henry Boot put to the council.

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The last one, a £10.7m proposal that included a cinema, restaurants and bars, was no thought to be value for money by the council.

The authority does intend to work with Henry Boot for the Site 5 development.

The council was working with Errol Flynn Filmhouse to deliver the cinema but is unsure whether it is lawful to enter into negotiations with them until further legal advice is taken.

It does plan to work with EFF who would provide its expertise in designing a cinema to be attractive to both its operator and the public because the authority "does not have this expertise".