GALLERY: Good news for filmgoers as building of St Neots cinema is completed

St Neots cinema.

St Neots cinema. - Credit: Archant

Film fans will be able to enter the world of Hollywood when the £7 million cinema complex in St Neots opens its doors this summer.

St Neots cinema.

St Neots cinema. - Credit: Archant

Turnstone Estates and Britannia Construction have announced that the building phase of the Rowley Arts Centre project has now been completed. Fitting out will take place ready for the 886-seat cinema’s target opening date of May 16.

The complex is expected to create up to 175 new jobs and regenerate the 1.5 acre site in the town centre, which was previously occupied by the old fire station, a recycling centre and a car park.

The 18,600 sq ft cinema building includes a zinc standing seam from the first floor upwards and sunken plant housing on the roof which will hide air conditioning, ducting and trunking from sight.

Inside, there will be six screens. Screen six, the biggest room, will seat 250 people. Both screens five and six will also be equipped with disabled viewing areas with lift access.

The screens will all be 3D capable and screen three will be available for performances from local theatre groups for a week, two times a year.

Chris Goldsmith, managing director of Turnstone Estates, said: “It is unique as far as I know and very much the brainchild of Peter [Rowley] to see that happen.”

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Mr Rowley, St Neots’ Lord of the Manor, donated £1 million towards the project before his death in March last year.

There will be a 108-space car park behind the cinema, for which customers will be charged about 50p an hour. The latest vehicle number plate recognition technology will be used. Adjoining this, there will be a children’s playground on land owned by St Neots Town Council.

There will be a 3,003 sq ft Pizza Express restaurant to the west entrance of the development, which will be open in time for Easter. Above this are three two-bed flats being marketed by Bennett Sanders – one of which has already been sold.

Adjacent to this will be a 3,681sq ft Frankie and Benny’s, plus a 3,018 sq ft Prezzo restaurant. The fourth and final eatery – which is yet to be announced – will be situated opposite.

The focal point of the development will be a plaza area for people to congregate, complete with a permanent public art display.

Phil McCabe, development director for Britannia Construction, said: “This creates a welcoming and boulevard feel to the centre. The restaurants will extend their dining, café style, outside, where visitors will be able to soak up the atmosphere.”

In this plaza are three six-metres-tall Dawn Redwood trees which were shipped from Germany especially for the project.

Mr McCabe said: “The experience has changed - I remember queuing round the block in the rain to buy a ticket at the door. Imagine what it is going to be like in the summer.”

Mr Goldsmith said: “Today marks a significant milestone for The Rowley Arts Centre. The people of St Neots have watched with eager anticipation as the scheme has come out of the ground and we can now hand over the buildings to the occupiers for them to fit out their familiar hoardings and signage.”