A CITY could get a multiplex cinema under a £30m scheme to transform a struggling shopping centre.

London-based property developer Clearbell Capital has followed up its £11.85m purchase of The Gates with firm proposals to create shops, restaurants, student accommodation, a riverside promenade and a multiplex cinema at the Durham City complex.

It is estimated the scheme, which would cost around £21m just to build, would generate around 180 extra jobs and a £5m annual boost for the economy, as well as supporting 176 jobs in the construction phase and earning Durham County Council a £1.5m New Homes Bonus and £430,000 a year in business rates.

Planning agents Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners say the project would rejuvenate the “under performing and+ underutilised” shopping precinct and transform it from being inward looking and inactive to being vibrant and sustainable.

Despite growing calls for Durham to have its own multiplex cinema, with Dragonville and Framwelgate Waterside mooted as potential venues, nothing concrete has emerged; although a development is going ahead 17 miles away at St Helen Auckland.

The Gates cinema could have six or seven screens and an operator has shown an interest.

A planning application has been submitted and a council committee will debate the scheme in the next few months.

Nick Berry, a partner at Clearbell Capital, said he hoped construction would begin early next year and the project be finished by late 2017.

“We want to get on with it and deliver a cinema that Durham hasn’t had, a series of restaurants, a riverside promenade and regenerate a part of Durham that has been crying out for that investment. We’re quite excited about it.”

A cinema was mentioned as soon as Clearbell bought The Gates last July and public consultation took place in November.

The Gates was built in the 1970s and 1980s but has faced problems for some years and eventually went into administration. Planning documents suggest even its main retailer, Wilkinsons, is “struggling”.

Councillor David Freeman welcomed the cinema proposal but raised concerns over the 253 student beds and scale and appearance of the development.

Mr Berry said the scheme was a very good mix, including much for the public good, so had to include elements that “work financially”.