A council’s plans to set up a cinema and a restaurant in a Derbyshire town are set for approval.
Derbyshire Dales District Council has been assessing the Matlock Market Hall site for redevelopment for years and those aims are set to take a significant leap forward.
At a meeting on Tuesday, February 8, councillors are set to approve the authority’s long-held plans, with its officers recommending approval.
The scheme would see the market hall area itself, next to the M&S Foodhall, turned into a two-screen cinema and the adjoining restaurant and café facing onto Bakewell Road.
If approved, the cinema would have a capacity for 67 people in one screen and 89 in the second screen, while the restaurant would have room for 50 covers.
A document submitted by Lathams Architects as part of the application says the scheme “will provide Matlock with a valuable leisure and cultural asset which will benefit both the local community as well as supporting the important visitor economy, and boosting the town’s evening economy”.
It says: “In addition, the application scheme will contribute positively to the enhancement of the Bakewell Road gateway into Matlock town centre.”
Designs submitted with the application show the restaurant and café being called “Vertigo Café” and the cinema being called “Dales Matlock Cinema”, however the exact details are to be worked out by the private operator of the businesses.
The operator, who bid for the project and runs other sites, has not yet been disclosed publicly.
They are said to be willing to explore community use of the cinema areas when films are not being shown.
Both businesses would be housed in the existing concrete market hall building, which councillors have previously described as an “eyesore”, “ugly” and “depressing”.
The council had originally planned for a “bigger and bolder scheme”, but the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership had deemed it an “unworthy project”.
That wider scheme had included two small shop units and a leisure facility in adjoining parts of the market hall and under the bus depot overhang.
A council report to be discussed next week says phase two of the scheme is subject to “fundraising” and would include a 133 square metre community space.
In the report, Matlock Town Council voiced its support for the scheme, saying: “The council welcomes the application and is pleased to see a proposed redevelopment of this site which it hopes will add to the experience, variety and choice of facilities available to residents and visitors and to the vibrancy of this area of the town.”
Derbyshire County Council’s flooding team has asked for evidence of how water would be drained from the site, which sits squarely in Flood Zone 2 and has a history of flooding.
Matlock Civic Association wrote: “The redevelopment of this site is welcomed, which has long been an unattractive, underused group of buildings at the main approach to Matlock from the west.”
Matlock Community Vision, one of the key proponents of the scheme, said: “The submission of the planning application for the market hall redevelopment represents the culmination of a long process, which has involved contributions from many different stakeholders, individuals and organisations along the way.”
Numerous authorities have said the plans still need to be tweaked to make them fully acceptable, such as works to the pavement and walkways around the site – opposing Tarmac in favour of paving – and the location of the toilet facilities in the proposed businesses.
The council says it does not have the funding to be able to afford nicer paving to match that in nearby Crown Square, but will look to secure more money.
Cllr Martin Burfoot, who represents the area on the district council, wrote: “This long awaited planning application is welcomed for a popular new use, which will transform the depressing and run-down former bus station and market hall.
“This follows many years of campaigning by the Bakewell Road Group, which became Matlock Community Vision (MCV), in order to persuade the district council to seek a cinema operator and invest capital into a scheme which has always been requested by local residents in a succession of proposed action plans, workshops and consultation exercises, over the past 15-20 years.”
Officers, recommending approval, said the scheme would “help supplement the existing offer within Matlock Town Centre and encourage a higher number of visits to the town and visitor spend”.
The council has previously disclosed that the cinema would create 18 direct full-time jobs and lead to other jobs being created in the town.
It has also said that the authority will break even on its investment – up to £800,820 – in year 13, meaning it will take 13 years to see a profit.
The authority has set aside a further £48,000 as a contingency for any unpredicted costs.
Council papers have said the scheme could increase footfall in Matlock by 37,704 a year in the first two years, with £659,816 in extra annual town centre spending, while the cinema operator expects 58,000 visitors a year.