New 16-screen cinema to be created in Ipswich’s Buttermarket centre

The Buttermarket shopping centre , Ipswich.

The Buttermarket shopping centre , Ipswich. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A new 16-screen cinema looks set to be built in Ipswich’s Buttermarket centre.

And the redevelopment of the 1992-built centre is also likely to see the creation of six new restaurants and a gym.

The development would see the number of cinema screens in Ipswich more than double from 13 (11 at Cineworld and two at the Ipswich Film Theatre) to 29.

The new owners of the shopping centre, Capital and Regional who are in partnership with the Drum Property Group, announced its purchase six weeks ago.

They have now put in an application to Ipswich Borough Council to amend the planning consent that was granted two years ago for Vue Cinemas to create a nine-screen multiplex in the centre.

That scheme fell down after Vue was unable to press ahead with the scheme, and eventually the centre was sold.

The new owners specialise in developing joint retail/leisure centres across the country.

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The new application is for 16 cinema screens ranging in size from 507 seats to 66 seats. The cinema would also include a luxury bar and a video games centre.

Six new restaurants would be created on two floors near the Arras Square entrance to the centre.

The plans show that shops occupying units at that end would move to units at the Buttermarket street end of the centre.

In the plans TK Maxx is seen occupying what used to be the ground floor of TJ Hughes and New Look is shown occupying two floors opposite that – where the cafe is currently located.

The work to convert the centre is to carry on while it is still operating – and Ken Ford from Capital and Regional said the project would take about 18 months to complete.

He said: “We have put in the application this week and we hope it will be considered by the borough as an amendment to the original proposal of two years’ ago, which established the principle of converting part of the centre.

“If the permission does come through we would like to start work early in the summer and would hope that it is completed in time for Christmas 2016.”

The owners are in detailed negotiations with a cinema operator – but cannot name them at this time, although it should become public within a few months.

Similarly they have had talks with gym operators and national restaurant chains and these should become clear over the next few months.

Mr Ford said: “Ideally we would like to have had everything in place before the announcement, but we need to get on with this and that means putting in the planning application which then goes into the public domain.”

He hoped the proposals would be widely welcomed: “With the changes at Sailmakers (Tower Ramparts) and what we are doing here, I think it should give the town centre a real boost.

“We see Ipswich town centre as somewhere with great potential and would like to help really bring it to life.”