Published: 16:48, 26 April 2019
| Updated: 17:33, 26 April 2019
A much-anticipated leisure and housing complex will boast almost 200 affordable homes, it has been revealed.
The scheme, known as The Riverside, includes a five-screen Curzon cinema, restaurants, shops, student homes and a new public square in Canterbury.
Details of the multi-million pound development have long been shrouded in secrecy, with Canterbury City Council making decisions behind closed doors.
But, today, the authority's chief executive Colin Carmichael revealed that all 189 homes will be affordable - with 40% being council houses and the remainder being allocated to a shared ownership scheme.
Dubbed the "absolute jewel in the crown" of the development by authority leader Simon Cook, the council houses will cater for people in the Canterbury district.
Construction work on the project at the former coach park and Serco depot in Kingsmead is set to begin in the summer.
Final contracts between the city council and developers Linkcity are due to be exchanged in the coming weeks.
The Riverside site will be split into three components – residential, student and commercial.
In November last year councillors agreed to invest £23 million in the commercial side of the project, which includes the cinema, restaurants, 220-space car park, public square and entertainment area.
Once all up and running, the authority will receive a rental income from the businesses operating there.
Identities of the potential restaurant chains coming to the complex are still shrouded in secrecy, however, there could be a mix of national and up-and-coming chains.
The residential element will go to Linkcity’s social housing partner to deliver the 189 homes in a long-term lease arrangement, while the student component will be used by Linkcity’s student accommodation partner in another long-term deal.
The council will receive a capital receipt of just over £2 million once the development is complete.
Mr Carmichael says Canterbury is in great need of a a new cinema.
He said: “The Riverside will create scores of jobs and enhance the entertainment that is on offer in a 21st century and forward-thinking city, at the same time as regenerating a key area.
“The city has been crying out for this style of cinema for a very long time and residents are tired of driving to Westwood Cross or Ashford for this type of experience.
“The opportunity to deliver a raft of affordable homes was too good to turn down and we have been working extremely hard in the background to make it happen.
“This project will also unlock a raft of benefits including drawing people along Northgate and boosting the businesses there, improving pedestrian and cycle links into the city from the east, creating new areas of publicly accessible open space and improving landscaping along and access to the River Stour."
Curzon will be running the five-screen cinema at the complex.
The national chain has applied for a premises licence which, if approved, would see the venue be open from 9am until midnight every day.
Plans viewable on the council's planning portal suggest two of the screens will cater for 112 moviegoers. Another two will be 98-seaters, while the fifth will be much smaller with just 55 seats.
Mr Carmichael added: “The council will also benefit from more business rates revenue, an uplift in the value of nearby council land, infrastructure improvements funded by the developer through the planning process, car park revenue and the reimbursement of the demolition costs incurred so far.”
Next Thursday's Kentish Gazette will take a more in-depth look at the plans and have more reaction on the news.
More by this authorJoe Wright