A NORTH-EAST town's long wait for a cinema may soon be about to end as £40m plans for a leisure development are set to be unveiled to the public.
A two-day public consultation will be held at Bishop Auckland Football Club’s Heritage Park this week to showcase plans for a multi-screen cinema, shops and restaurants at St Helen Auckland.
The development is being planned for 24 acres of wasteland next to the West Auckland bypass and behind the Tindale Crossing Pub.
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Land Planning Partnership, the company behind the plans, will be seeking the views of the public at the club on Wednesday and Thursday, December 5 and 6.
County councillor for West Auckland Rob Yorke said he has full confidence these plans are genuine and that, subject to planning permission, they will go ahead.
He said the scheme will create several hundred jobs, adding: “This is the best Christmas present we could hope for.”
Terry Jackson, chairman of Bishop Auckland Football Club welcomed the news.
A multi-screen cinema had originally been planned as part of the development which saw the creation of the Sainsbury’s supermarket and new football stadium.
While the shop, stadium and two restaurants opened in 2010 and 2011, the cinema plans were shelved due to a downturn in the economy.
Mr Jackson, who grew up in St Helen Auckland, said he was disappointed when the cinema part of the scheme failed to materialise but is confident these new plans will progress.
He said: “I still pinch myself when I see how this area has regenerated over the past few years but what we all really want is a cinema.”
There are also several shops, a food court, and bowling alley planned as part of the cinema development.
West Auckland county councillor Andy Turner said: “People ask me every day what is happening with the cinema, this is the best thing that could happen here.”
The consultation will be open from 10am to 8pm with the public’s opinions going towards a planning application to be submitted to Durham County Council in the near future.
The site, which used to be a brick works and builder’s yard, has been derelict for decades.