Published: 06:00, 22 February 2021
| Updated: 07:27, 22 February 2021
This year’s scheduled launch of a long-awaited £115 million leisure complex will come at the perfect time for the rebirth of Canterbury’s economy, says the leader of the city council.
Ben Fitter-Harding hopes this autumn’s opening of The Riverside in Kingsmead - which will boast a five-screen Curzon cinema, restaurants, shops and bars - can tap into the pent-up demand of the district’s residents.
Pictures this week show how the structure opposite Sainsbury’s and fronting onto Sturry Road is rapidly taking shape.
While it still looks a long way from completion, the council is hoping the commercial element of the scheme will be ready to launch in little over half a year.
“I’m really excited to see it all developing,” Cllr Fitter-Harding said.
“It’ll have a really great cinema, and food and beverage offerings to really launch us out of the pandemic.
“It’s set to open at a great time when hopefully things are back to normal. It should be really good timing and it ramps up Canterbury’s offering.
“With Curzon being one of the higher-end operators it really gives us that gravitas in Kent.
“Even as habits change for people coming out of the pandemic, this is still something that’ll be very much in demand.”
None of the tenants for the site’s 12 units have yet been revealed, but council chiefs say they are steering clear of the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King as they opt to secure eateries where “people need cutlery”.
Cllr Fitter-Harding added: “All signs are that the rental market is strong and looking good for the demand for food, beverage and leisure coming out of the pandemic.
“There are people out there who want it and launching the new development will be a great time of opportunity for businesses and Canterbury.
“We’re happy there is an appetite for it as we want it to be full, we want it to be successful.
“The council has put a lot into it to make that generation happen, so I think it’s really important it’s a success for us all.”
The council has invested £23 million in securing commercial control of the development.
Aside from the commercial element, student accommodation comprising 493 beds will be built at the site, along with 189 homes and an undercroft car park.
By pumping millions into regenerating the former coach park and Serco depot, the council hopes the eight-acre attraction will encourage tourists to increase their stay in the city by walking along The King’s Mile or river to reach the site.