Advance showing of centrepiece Stafford cinema

With a huge glass frontage and views over the river, this 860-seater cinema is to form the centrepiece of a new leisure complex which will change the face of a town.

Advance showing of centrepiece Stafford cinema

These artist's impressions have been unveiled, giving the first peek of how the cinema, which will form part of the Stafford Riverside development, will look.

Developers LXB Properties unveiled the design at an exhibition on site – and visitors gave it the thumbs-up.

The cinema will be surrounded by quality restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating.

A 5ft by 3ft LED screen high on the outside of the cinema showing trailers for upcoming films is also being considered.

The firm's development director Carl Berrand said the river walkway, which will be elevated to the same level as the bridges, will resemble a continental boulevard.

The wider development in the heart of the town will feature a Marks & Spencer, River Island, H&M and Debenhams.

There will also be a new multi-storey car park to replace the old Tesco car park in Bridge Street which is currently being ripped down.

The river walkway will be elevated to the same level as the bridges

The complex in the heart of the town will cover two sides of the river and will be linked by a new pedestrian bridge.

People in the town were yesterday given their first glimpse of the site's layout. It had been thought the cinema would front onto Bridge Street but the designs show an entrance directly opposite the existing footbridge to the borough council offices.

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said he was feeling 'very positive' about the plans.

"I'd like to see a design as sympathetic as possible to the architecture of the town," he said.

"I'm pleased to see the cinema and restaurants facing the river to make good use of that view. And it's good to see the old Tesco car park, which was an eyesore, coming down. We need a modern area like this in Stafford."

Christa and Keith Dellar – 'it will boost trade'

The cafe will be knocked down, while the former newspaper building will remain and its red-brick frontage extended as far as the service road.

The restaurant will have a large window on the side, overlooking the river. Keith Dellar, and his wife Christa, both aged 55, from Rowley Park, Stafford, were heartened by what they saw.

Mrs Dellar, an e-learning adviser, said: "Stafford seems to be dying. This will really be an injection of life into the town."

IT manager Mr Dellar said: "It will boost trade by bringing people in from outside Stafford.

"It will also be good for the nightlife of the town, bringing in young people, particularly with the loss of students from the closure of the university campus in Stafford."

LXB is still in talks with two cinema chains interested in taking on the six -screen facility. Mr Berrand said a decision on who had won the contract would be made in 'about a month.'

Next door to the cinema will be a row of 'high-end' restaurants, such as Bar & Grill and Nando rather than fast food outlets.

Mr Berrand said:"With the raised walkway, removing the steps from Bridge Street so the pavement is all on a level, and with the restaurants further down, it will resemble a boulevard.

"At the moment it is like a tunnel and the steps are not helpful for disabled users."

Architect Richard Reade said some thought had gone into the design of the cinema. "It could have been a black-sided 'box' with a uniform design just imposed on the site," he said.

"Instead it has been designed to blend in with its surroundings.

"The glass frontage is not what you would expect from a cinema – quite the opposite, in fact.

"It was important to break it up, giving it different heights.

"It's been designed with a central foyer surrounded by screens, rather than an entrance in a corner of the building. It is a quality look."

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