THE £30million redevelopment of Basildon town centre has been put on ice as plans for a new cinema in the Eastgate Centre are revealed.

This is the first look at the 15-screen cinema which is set to open on the second floor of the shopping centre, above the food court, in 2017.

Business leaders and councillors have welcomed the planned £15million revamp, which also includes improvements to the East Square and bus station entrances.

But the scheme has derailed Basildon Council’s plans to transform East Square into a leisure quarter, which also included a cinema. Council leader Phil Turner said: “We had similar plans and they are now on hold.

“Two cinemas in the town will not work.

“To say we are going back to the drawing board wouldn’t be unfair.

“We will have to go back and look fundamentally at what we are going to offer and how it is going to be delivered.”

He hopes the investment by Infrared Capital Partners, which bought the Eastgate Centre for £86.6million in January, will spark further town centre regeneration.

Infrared believes the cinema, which would have between 12 and 15 screens, could bring new restaurants and cafes to the centre and other nearby businesses could benefit from late-night footfall.

It is expected that the cinema will stay open until midnight.

A recent survey of shoppers using the Eastgate Centre revealed 42 per cent would visit the centre more often if it had a cinema, and 39 per cent would visit other destinations in Basildon while on a cinema trip.

It is estimated that 750,000 customers could visit the cinema every year.

Keith Butcher, director of real estate at Infrared, said: “We are delighted to unveil our plans, which we believe will both rejuvenate Basildon town centre and secure the long-term future of the Eastgate Centre.

“We believe that a town-centre cinema will help to spark a family-friendly evening economy for Basildon, encouraging people to linger longer and providing a boost to local businesses.”

Infrared, which is in advanced talks with a number of cinema operators, plans to submit a planning application to the council by Christmas and hopes for approval by March.

No operator is likely to be announced until next year.

Plans will be on show in unit 52, in the centre’s upper mall next to Santa’s grotto, from 10am to 4pm on Friday and Saturday.