New £10million cinema complex plan would create 100 jobs

Coun Bernie Scaplehorn at Cheviot House, the Galleries, Washington, plans have been submitted for a cinema on the site.
Coun Bernie Scaplehorn at Cheviot House, the Galleries, Washington, plans have been submitted for a cinema on the site.
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ABOUT 100 jobs could be created after plans for a £10million entertainments centre were announced.

Developers hope to submit ambitious plans to build a restaurant and cinema complex yards from the Galleries shopping centre within months.

If the permission is granted the scheme could start by next summer.

The plans – proposed by Galleries owner M&G Real Estate – will go on public display next week.

Andrew Dakin, M&G Real Estate’s associate director of development, said he was “very excited” by the proposed latest wave of investment.

He added: “The development would bring a real boost to local employment and add to the appeal of Washington town centre.

“It will enhance its evening economy and provide an improved consumer experience for current and potential new customers alike.”

The multi-screen digital cinema and up to six new restaurants and cafes are planned for the site of Cheviot House, a former office block close to the Galleries’ western car park. It has lain empty for five years and is set for demolition.

Overall, the proposed development, which M&G has been secretly working on for two years, would have up to 50,000 sq ft of new commercial floorspace.

Initial designs will be on display at the Galleries next Friday and Saturday, with residents and businesses invited to give feedback.

They will then be refined and enhanced with a view to submitting a planning application to Sunderland City Council by the autumn.

Washington West Labour councillor Bernie Scaplehorn described the move as “fabulous news”.

Coun Scaplehorn, the chairman of the Washington Area Committee of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is brilliant.

“It will create jobs and bring plenty more people into Washington, especially boosting the night-time economy. It’s a massive amount of money, and the development will be good for the Galleries.”

The plans are the latest phase of £42million of investment M&G Real Estate has poured into the Galleries in the past five years.

The cash has helped bring in new retailers, improved retail space and enhanced customer experience.

Upgrades have included a major redevelopment of Wessington Square at the heart of the retail centre.

As well as permanent full and part-time jobs, it is estimated significant employment will be created during the building of the complex.

The exhibition will take place in Wessington Square from 12.30pm to 5.30pm on Friday, July 5, and from 10am to 2.30pm on Saturday, July 6.