EXCLUSIVE: £50m investment to spark Wisbech jobs bonanza

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MORE than 500 new jobs are set to be created as part of the “iconic” £50 million redevelopment of the former Greyhound Stadium site in Wisbech which will see the town’s Tesco store move across the road.

The new plans will also see The Light Cinemas open one of the UK’s first all-digital cinemas on the same site, in time for Christmas next year.

The detailed plans to redevelop the stadium site on Cromwell Road were unveiled to Wisbech Town Council tonight after it was confirmed that Tesco has formally joined forces with Cromwell Retail Park Ltd to redevelop both the stadium site and the nearby Tesco site in Wisbech.

This latest move confirms rumours exclusively reported in the Citizen last month, that the developers and Tesco had joined forces.

The project will see a Tesco Extra superstore, a “21st-century” eight-screen digital cinema and several family restaurants built on the former stadium site, including Frankie & Benny’s.

The existing Tesco store will be knocked down to make way for the new Cromwell Retail Park, made up of nine non-food retail units. Well-known names linked with the park include Next, Matalan, New Look, Dreams and Sports World.

Jonathan Clogg, speaking on behalf of Cromwell Retail Park Ltd, said: “This is really exciting news for Wisbech. After a lengthy preparation process, we are now ready to submit our detailed plans to the council to enable us to start building what will be one of the most iconic mixed-use developments in the region.”

Hundreds of new jobs will be created including supermarket staff, sales assistants, chefs and waiters, and cinema staff. The construction phase will also generate significant numbers of further jobs for local people and local businesses.

Backing the scheme, Tesco’s Ed Heppenstall added: “Tesco has a long-term commitment to Wisbech and we look forward to creating even more jobs and giving our customers more choice and a better shopping experience.”

The Light Cinemas’ multiplex in Wisbech will be one of the first all-digital cinemas in the country and is expected to draw in thousands of cinema goers and shoppers to Wisbech from far and wide, giving a major boost to the local economy.

The development will bring forward road improvements and investment to support a number of town centre initiatives, as well as tourist information and community notice boards, to ensure the whole town derives maximum benefits from the developments.

The detailed plans for the high-quality cinema include extra cinema screens to enable the multiplex to show specialist films and live music concerts and sporting events, along with ‘Hollywood’ blockbusters. There is also the potential for corporate events to be run from the cinema.

The Light Cinemas’ Keith Pullinger explained: “Under these plans, the Wisbech community will become one of the first communities in the UK to benefit from The Light Cinemas’ innovative vision of creating flexible and community-orientated, all-digital cinema destinations. We are dedicated to creating the highest quality cinemas and providing the best possible viewing experience at reasonable prices that local families can afford. The potential spin-off benefits for local residents and local businesses should not be underestimated.”

All of the developments already have planning permissions, though the revised consents will accommodate the re-organisation of the consents to ensure the developments get underway as envisaged.

Formal planning applications to enable construction to start on the developments are to be lodged with Fenland District Council in the next few days. Assuming the revised planning process is complete in early Spring, Cromwell Retail Park Ltd, Tesco and The Light Cinemas anticipate commencement of development in late 2011.

• For full story, see Wednesday’s Citizen.