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Published: 00:00, 19 May 2016
| Updated: 10:39, 19 May 2016
Film fans are in for a treat with Bluewater set to add four new screens to its popular Showcase Cinema.
The extra screens will see Showcase expand into some of the space left vacant by the Glow events venue, which was axed last year having attracted just two million visitors since opening in 2012.
Showcase is looking to expand into the top floor, with shopping centre bosses hoping the bottom floor can accommodate some form of leisure facility.
A Bluewater spokesman said: “We are constantly looking for ways to add the very best offers and new experiences for our guests.
“We have been working on detailed proposals to transform Glow’s upper hall to deliver a number of new cinema screens and three new flagship restaurants, and have recently submitted a planning application to Dartford Borough Council.
“The proposals will not only add further appeal to Bluewater, they will bring jobs and further opportunities to the local community.”
Bluewater’s cinema currently has 12 screens, lagging behind the 15 at Westfield London and 17 at Westfield Stratford.
The four new auditoriums would sport the latest surround sound systems and reclining seats, with each screen powered by so-called Xplus technology, which is said to be even better than IMAX.
Occupying the bottom floor would be a new attraction, although what has yet to be decided. Some of the potential additions mooted include a bowling alley and a trampoline facility.
“The proposals will not only add further appeal to Bluewater, they will bring jobs and further opportunities to the local community” -Bluewater spokesman
The large staircase fronting Thames Walk, which leads up towards the entrance to the cinema, will be demolished to make room for a new entrance to the downstairs attraction.
Bluewater plans to continue hosting more popular events such as its Christmas Winter Wonderland on another part of the site.
KCC Highways, Highways England and local councils do not object to the proposal, although concern has been expressed over the impact of more attractions at Bluewater on local traffic.
Linda Collins, of the Bean Residents Association, believes improvements should first be carried out at the nearby Bean interchange.
Association secretary Linda Collins said: “We first proposed short term measures at Bean Interchange to KCC in 2011 and these were last discussed at a meeting on July 22 2015.
“The meeting was hosted by Bluewater, attended by KCC, the Highways Association, Bean Parish Council and Bean Residents Association.
“The proposals have stalled, apparently because of lack of KCC resources, awaiting KCC study and prioritisation.”
She has called on Dartford council to include a condition in the proposal that the applicant fund short term measures at the interchange, with Highways England not expecting it to arrive until 2023.
Despite the concerns, the proposal to convert Glow is expected to be approved at a Dartford council planning meeting tonight.