FILM lovers will be seeing double in Bolton, as plans for a SECOND town centre cinema were given the green light.
Crompton Place Shopping Centre now has permission to start building an 11-screen cinema in the old TK Maxx unit, after councillors backed the plans at a Town Hall meeting.
Under the plans 10 businesses on the ground floor, including Pound Empire, will be evicted to make way for four restaurants.
However, the scheme can only go ahead with the condition an entrance from Crompton Place to Bradshawgate is built.
The former entrance on to the town centre street was closed when Primark expanded.
Approval for the scheme comes as rival shopping centre the Market Place started work this week on its own, nine-screen cinema, plus restaurant and bar space, in its vaulted basements.
Tim Vaughan, chief executive of the Moorgarth Group, which owns the Market Place, wrote to the committee, saying that Crompton Place had admitted Bolton town centre could not support two cinemas.
Crompton Place had tried to scupper the Market Place’s chance of bringing a cinema by threatening legal action.
Mr Vaughan added: “Indeed, the applicant, through their failed judicial review, has already demonstrated their desire to deliberately frustrate development and regeneration in Bolton town centre, and we strongly believe this should be a major consideration for the committee.”
Ahead of yesterday’s meeting of the planning committee, councillors were told they could not judge the plans by comparing it with other town centre schemes — and it was up to the market to decide which centre would be built and succeed.
Moving approval, Cllr Nick Peel said: “It’s a positive scheme — the council has long had an ambition to bring leisure uses to the town centre, and this does fill that gap.
“It’s a shame that we have got another shopping centre building a cinema, and one is not looking to build a bowling alley, which is something I would enjoy in my own leisure time.”
The last remaining cinema in Bolton, the Cannon 123 on Bradshawgate, closed in 1998 and was demolished.
The scheme would see the existing first floor, containing the top floor of New Look, Games Workshop and the vacant former TK Maxx shop, converted into 11 screens and a restaurant.
Rooms and storage space on the second floor will be demolished, to form the upper level of the cinema and another restaurant.