It will soon be lights, camera and action for Elms Field as the operator of the new boutique cinema has been announced.
On Wednesday, Wokingham Borough Council announced that it has signed a pre-let agreement with Everyman Cinemas. The company operates an independent chain and has branches across the country including Shepherd’s Bush in London, Winchester and Canary Wharf.
They join the previously announced Premier Inn, which has also signed a pre-let agreement following the recent – and controversial – decision to grant planning permission to regenerate Elms Field.
The overall scheme sees new housing, a revamped park and a supermarket – rumoured to be Aldi, but not confirmed – coming to the area.
Wokingham Borough Council said the pre-let agreements will see the two major brands move into new units in the borough council’s Elms Field development once their buildings have been completed. Work is due to start next year and will be complete by 2020.
Bernie Pich, head of town centre regeneration at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We’re also incredibly pleased to have signed a pre-let agreement with Everyman Cinemas who will be running the new three-screen boutique cinema at Elms Field. Local people have continued to tell us Wokingham lacks things to do and has limited entertainment options.
“ We have had repeated requests for a new cinema at each stage of our consultations and this long awaited boutique facility is a first for the local area.”
Mr Pich said that the cinema chain is “the perfect fit”.
“One of the fastest growing independent cinema networks in the country, Everyman prides itself on an exceptional film watching experience, from great design and service, to comfortable seating and good atmosphere. It will offer something for everyone, with a programme which balances blockbuster movies with more select films, alongside live screenings of theatre and opera from some of the leading performance venues in the world.”
Crispin Lilly, CEO of Everyman Cinemas, said: “We’re delighted to announce our plans for the arrival of a new Everyman in Wokingham. We’re excited to become a destination for the local community to indulge in a great night out.
“Our venues are intimate spaces that offer a diverse range of film and events for all our guests along with great food and drink. We look forward to opening the doors in the near future.”
Mr Pich is equally happy with the discussions that the Council has been having with companies interested in moving into the borough.
He said: “It’s been great seeing such growing interest and confidence in the town since we started to secure planning consent for the different regeneration phases. We’ve been talking to a variety of companies about taking on units and we think local people are going to be excited when they see the businesses signing up to come to the town.”
Mr Pich feels that Premier Inn is a fantastic name for the regeneration scheme to attract and praised the quality of the company.
“Premier Inn has been involved in the [Elms Field] scheme since the early days and has now reconfirmed their commitment to moving into the hotel at the southern end of the site,” he said. It’s a fantastic brand to have secured for Wokingham. Premier continue to win awards for the quality of their service, including being named the UK’s Best Family Hotels at the 2016 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award.”
And the hotel company is equally delighted to be checking in to Wokingham.
Jo Moon, director of acquisitions for Premier Inn, said: “Bringing superb new locations like Wokingham town centre into our portfolio is great news for Premier Inn and for our guests. This is an important opportunity for us to invest in the town and participate in a high-quality development project. We’re looking forward to work starting and towards opening the doors on another fantastic Premier Inn hotel in the near future.”
Work on site at Elms Field will start in spring 2017 and is expected to be complete by 2020. In the coming months a detailed phasing plan for work will be developed identifying when individual elements such as the cinema and hotel are expected to be completed.