Barnsley’s new flagship Glass Works development will include a cutting edge cinema complex which will not only give customers a choice of movies but also alternative viewing formats – in a move expected to lure visitors from other big name sites elsewhere in the region.
Details of the development have been revealed by operator Cineworld as Barnsley Council also announced the latest tenants to be signed up to the emerging shopping and leisure centre, which is emerging from the old Metropolitan Centre and surrounding sites.
Sports Direct has now been confirmed as joining Next as big name outlets in the centre, with several food outlets also signed up, including one which will operate alongside the Lightbox library, which is to open next year.
A list of other deals are also under negotiation and are expected to be completed in the months ahead.
Cineworld is one of the two big operators, alongside Superbowl, to invest in the scheme – which is intended to remodel the town centre as a leisure and retail destination with a new emphasis on dining as well as shopping.
Cineworld’s UK property director, Kevin Frost, said he believed the new complex would have the technology to attract an audience with a wide range of options for films showing, but also a selection of formats.
Those will range from a towering super-screen to innovative special effects, including moving seats, and curved surround screens which partially envelope those watching.
The cinemas will also feature stadium style seating, with an emphasis on comfort.
There will be 13 screens with a total of around 2,500 seats.
Mr Frost said: “We have the UK rights to these, so we are the only boys in town.
“We are re-engaging with the customer and are really pleased to be working with Barnsley Council. Barnsley will be one of our next generation of complexes,” he said.
It is expected that will be enough to attract customers willing to make a longer journey for the experience and that should in turn buoy up other businesses by providing fresh custom.
The cinema is expected to open mid-2020, with other elements of the development opening in stages as work progresses.
Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said the complexities of rebuilding the town centre while it continued to trade was a project outstripped in complexity only by London’s Crossrail development.
He said: “As we move into phase two to do what we have done is an incredible achievement, we are trying to demolish the town centre, rebuild it and keep trading.
“The logistical challenge is great. Crossrail apart, there is probably not another project in the country with the same complexities.”
Although the leisure and retail development is far from complete, the council is already looking at another phase of redevelopment which could see the Court House area taken up with new offices and other developments, which could include a new hotel.
Work is going on at present to bring that scheme to a point where it can proceed and he added: “We are looking at what we can do beyond these two massive projects. The world will continue to change and we want to look beyond the next ten years.”