BOLTON’S new Market Place cinema has been given the go-ahead by council planning officers — paving the way for work to begin on the multi-million pound redevelopment.

The shopping centre’s new owners the Moorgarth Group is set to transform the complex with a nine-screen cinema and a host of restaurants, after buying it for about £24 million last year.

Under the plans, the current car park will be partly demolished to make way for the new screens, which are anticipated to have up to 1,200 seats.

Moorgarth’s chief executive Tim Vaughan said he was “absolutely delighted and very excited” about the scheme.

He said it already has a company lined up to run the cinema — which could include 3D capacity — and that a further planning application to allow restaurants to be built in the basement of the shopping centre will be submitted next week. Mr Vaughan added: “We are doing what we said we were going to do — one of the issues in the town is that people weren’t sure if it was going to go ahead.

“We’re creating that destination and event location, and we’ve seen figures that show an unbelievable ability for a cinema to thrive in the town centre.

“I must thank the local authority for the assistance they have given us getting it through this quickly.”

The Market Place will stay open during the work, which Mr Vaughan said he hopes will be completed as soon as Christmas.

Keith Davies, director of regeneration and development at Bolton Council, said the cinema was a “real winner” which had the capacity to transform the town centre.

He added: “It’s another big milestone for the regeneration of the town centre.

“For a long time we’ve wanted to secure a cinema and it looks like that is going to be delivered — the fact that the planning permission has been provided so quickly means they are in a position to get the work started.

“One of the things that we have been aware of, and certainly visitors to the town centre have said, is that we do have a night-time economy but it is largely focused on a particular demographic and age group, “If you want to go clubbing we’ve got the facilities for that, but what we haven’t got — with the exceptions of the Octagon and Albert Halls — is a night-time family leisure option, and this addition will be really good.”