An operator for the new Daventry cinema at Mulberry Place has finally been announced.
Daventry District Council has reached a deal with The Arc Cinema to run the new £12.3million four-screen cinema complex when it opens in spring 2021. The company runs a chain of cinemas in Ireland and is now branching out to the UK in the East Midlands area.
Contracts were exchanged yesterday afternoon (October 10) just a couple of hours before the issue was due to be discussed at a full council meeting, with the Labour party calling for an update on whether an operator had been appointed.
Council chief executive Ian Vincent said: “It’s great news that The Arc Cinema is coming to Daventry as part of its exciting expansion plans into the UK market. We are certain that they will provide the perfect mix for our town and a state-of-the-art cinema experience that will offer something a bit different for our local communities.
“With both The Arc Cinema and our construction contractors now signed up, it’s now all systems go for delivering our Mulberry Place development by early 2021.”
Work is starting this month on preparing the foundations for the new cinema. The approved Mulberry Place plans will see the construction of a new four-screen cinema, an adjacent restaurant building and a new civic square off North Street. The site was home to Daventry Library until it moved to the Abbey Resource Centre in St John’s Square in May.
The operator was selected for the lease by DDC due to its ‘successful track record in providing a high-quality and friendly cinema experience that can be tailored to local communities’.
But after seeing their motion defeated, the Labour party criticised how long the appointment had taken, and slammed an ‘information deficit’. Councillor Ken Ritchie said: “Eleven months ago it was recognised that we were behind schedule on this. We have not been told any more about why these delays have taken place.”
But Conservative councillor Adam Brown hit back at the opposition, criticising a previous motion from the party calling for work to be halted on the scheme until an operator had been appointed. Councillor Brown said: “Had we listened to the Labour party then we would have wasted that money and a massive opportunity would have been lost.”
And the cabinet member responsible, Councillor David James, said he was ‘owed an apology’ by the Labour group, saying ‘these things take time’.
The cinema project has long been in the pipeline, although the costs of the project – including the library relocation – soared from an original £8.2million budget due to groundwork issues.
The scheme was pushed through quickly by councillors who feared money may be lost or spent differently in the new unitary council that will replace it, which will also cover Northampton and South Northants.
Outgoing leader Councillor Chris Millar had previously said: “If we don’t spend money on this project we will probably lose it, and I would rather it was spent in Daventry than on the regeneration of Northampton.”
He later admitted however that the council was ‘pushing the line a bit’ on its finances by funding both the cinema and the new £1.5million premises for Reach for Health. Both were granted planning permission by the authority in February.
The council and its building contractors Willmott Dixon are now working with The Arc Cinema to ensure the cinema design and specification offer a ‘high-quality and personal screening experience’.
Brian Gilligan, director for Melcorpo, which runs The Arc Cinema, said: “We are delighted to be launching The Arc Cinema in Daventry.
“The town has a great feel and vibrancy and I’m confident our cinema will complement the successful regeneration of this thriving town centre.”