£7m cinema to create 120 jobs

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THE green light has been given to a £7m eight-screen cinema and restaurant project at Highfield - almost exactly a year after plans were announced by the Portadown developers JH Turkington’s.

The go-ahead was finally given last Wednesday after a series of minor planning blips, and work is likely to start by the end of the year at the former site of Irish Road Motors.

The contract will take around nine months and the cinema will be operated by the massive Omniplex company which owns in the region of 30 cinemas throughout Ireland.

It will create 120 jobs when the cinema and restaurants are operational - and it will include new premises for Drop-Inn Ministries who currently occupy the site. The architects are HPA (Harry Porter Associates) of Seagoe Industrial Estate in Portadown.

Gary Turkington of the developers in Mahon Road said, “We’re delighted that the go-ahead has now been given.

The area is crying out for a cinema and this is excellent news from the employment and lifestyle aspects. As well as providing jobs in the finished project, it will create vital employment in the construction industry.”

He also paid tribute to Alderman Sydney Anderson, Craigavon councillor and Upper Bann MLA, who has worked closely with the planners to bring the project to fruition.

Said Mr Anderson, “There have been a few planning problems, all of a minor nature, and I’m gratified that the £7 million project is ready for the off. The area certainly needs it, and I have to say that the planners co-operated all along the way.” And this week, the planners emailed the Portadown Times to confirm that the certificate of approval was on the way to Turkington’s.

The cinema complex, which will have 970 seats, will be built close to the huge Tesco Extra store at Highfield, which Turkington’s also constructed, and will mean that all the existing buildings on the site will be demolished to make way for the development.

A spokesperson for Omniplex Cinemas commented, “We have been trying to secure a suitable site in Craigavon for an Omniplex cinema for some time, and this is terrific news. It’s a perfect site for us and for the community. We aim to be open for business as soon as possible.”