PLANS for a multiplex cinema are set to be approved by Colchester Council- despite hitting the trade of town centre restaurants.

Officers have recommended the council’s application for a cinema at its Northern Gateway site be passed at a meeting next week.

Officers say the cinema would cause a downturn of 38.6 per cent of people visiting the Odeon and, in turn, those people not visiting town centre restaurants.

But they say this would mainly be a loss of evening customers.

The report said: “The NLP findings are the impact of the development is likely to be felt more during evening periods with a reduction in the amount of linked trips whereby customers to the cinema also patronise local eating and drinking facilities.

“During the day the vitality of the town centre would not be greatly impacted on the basis the retail, service and food and drink offer in the town is not heavily dependent on visitors to the cinema.”

The report also states Tollgate would be a better place for the plans because it is already part of an urban centre.

However, they said Tollgate should be discounted as if its proposals went ahead, they would harm the town centre because of the addition of new shops.

Northern Gateway proposals are based around leisure, with no space for shops.

The report said: “The diversion of linked retail and leisure trips from the town centre to a greatly expanded Tollgate Village will be significantly more harmful than a leisure only development at Northern Gateway.”

Ewan Dodds, chief executive officer of Whybrow and member of the Colchester Town Centre Team, said the town centre was a “big draw” for new restaurants and a new cinema would not stop them from coming to Colchester.

He said: “The Odeon is not looking to get out of Colchester because of this.

“And these restaurant brands which are coming in such as Wagamama and Las Iguanas want to come to the town centre.”

The plans will be discussed by Colchester Council’s planning committee next Thursday.

A separate, detailed planning application for Northern Gateway, including a hotel and restaurants, was approved last week on its own as the cinema proposals were not yet fully ready.

Plans to create shops, restaurants and a cinema at Tollgate will go before the planning committee tonight.

It is an identical proposal to one refused earlier this year.

An appeal into the council’s refusal is due to be heard in the new year.