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Multi-screen cinema idea is part of Seven Brethren masterplan

PUBLISHED: 08:30 31 August 2016 | UPDATED: 08:39 31 August 2016

A masterplan is being drawn up for Severn Brethren in Barnstaple. Picture: Austin Wallas

A masterplan is being drawn up for Severn Brethren in Barnstaple. Picture: Austin Wallas

Archant

Draft report suggests new cinema could form part of leisure-led Barnstaple riverside development

The leisure centre at Seven Brethern could be demolished to make way for a new multi-screen cinema. Picture: Andy Keeble The leisure centre at Seven Brethern could be demolished to make way for a new multi-screen cinema. Picture: Andy Keeble

A leisure-led masterplan has been drawn up for Seven Brethren in Barnstaple – with a multi-screen cinema, restaurants, new homes and sports pitches being looked at as well as a new leisure centre and swimming pool.

The draft blueprint has been produced for North Devon Council by commercial property expert Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

The exact details are being kept under wraps, but speaking to the Gazette this week, council leader Des Brailey said there was an opportunity to deliver industry-leading leisure facilities for the town.

“We are still looking at what will fit best for us but it has been suggested that perhaps a multi-screen cinema could be a good fit for us.

North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble

“It could attract more eating houses and offer people more places to go and have a meal before watching a film – some real family leisure time.

“Barnstaple is a sub-regional centre and if we had a multi-screen cinema it could attract people from as far away as Tiverton.

“At the moment we are told that the flavour of the time is multi-screen cinemas but like it or not, Brexit has caused people to pull back slightly. However, I am led to believe this might be a temporary change – personally I don’t see a problem.”

Mr Brailey said the ‘bottom line’ was to provide a new leisure centre and swimming pool for the town.

Up for grabs: North Devon Leisure Centre could be sold off and flattened to make way for a new 'leisure focused scheme' that could include a cinema, restaurants and a hotel. Picture: Andy Keeble Up for grabs: North Devon Leisure Centre could be sold off and flattened to make way for a new 'leisure focused scheme' that could include a cinema, restaurants and a hotel. Picture: Andy Keeble

The current facility looks set to be demolished, with a new centre built along side the Tarka Tennis Centre.

“The old leisure centre is past its sell-by date and to continue, we would need to spend £4million – and that would only give the centre a finite life of 10 years; that is clearly not good value for money,” said Mr Brailey.

Earlier this year, JLL director John Kinsey said the site could also be used to develop a ‘sporting centre of excellence’, and Mr Brailey said new leisure facilities could also include two football pitches, badminton courts and a gym.

“And just maybe we could attract a physiotherapy centre for sports injuries – you never know – there is a swathe of land and there is an opportunity,” he said.

“We would also be looking at housing along the waterfront, although the biggest difficulty is to overcome flooding issues.”

Mr Brailey said the council would be talking to existing tenants with a view to maximising its assets.

“Some of the businesses there have a long lease and we would be working around those tenants,” he said.

“Some other leases will be coming up for termination in the normal way and negotiations will need to take place. Clearly we will want to maximize our assets for the residents of North Devon.”

Mr Brailey said the council would be looking to decide a course of action by the end of the year.

“We are certainly looking at taking a decision around about Christmas time,” he said.

“We would expect to take a view and then set a specification for developers – but first we need to get more detail.”

What leisure facilities would you like to see at Seven Brethren? Email your thoughts to newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk

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