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New IMAX cinema planned for Watford as part of Intu's Charter Place revamp
Watford could be getting a new IMAX cinema as part of the forthcoming redevelopment of the Charter Place shopping centre.
Architects designing the £100 million scheme said they were planning for a multi-screen cinema complex with a large 450-seat IMAX as the centrepiece on the second floor of the new centre.
At a presentation at Watford Town Hall last night councillors also got their first sight of detailed drawings of what the new Charter Place will look like.
The event comes after the operators of the neighbouring intu Watford, Intu, secured a 999-year lease on the aging Charter Place centre, which is owned by Watford Borough Council.
Leslie Jones Architecture unveiled designs showing a mixture of styles with a gabled frontage jutting out from a white rectangular upper tier decorated with a patchwork of different materials, including blue, glazed terracotta.
The listed frontage at 63 High Street will be preserved as part of the new centre.
63 High Street.
James Cons, Managing Director of Leslie Jones Architecture, said the redevelopment of Charter Place could really improve the town centre and "really lift up the town".
Going through the designs he said the centre would have larger units than intu Watford, which aimed to attract high-end brands to it.
Plans for the ground and first floors showed the High Street-facing units taken by restaurants and the rest used for retail.
The second floor was dominated by the large cinema complex but also show space earmarked for unspecified leisure facilities.
The central area of the centre will remain open but will be covered by a glass roof.
Mr Cons said: "We hope this will be a stunning central space for Watford town centre."
The councillors were told Intu plans to submit planning permission for Charter Place in later this month with a view to beginning the demolition of the centre in 2015.
Construction is planned to take place throughout 2016 with a view to opening in time for Christmas 2017.
An inside view of the new design planned to open in 2017
Following the presentation Mr Cons answered questions from the councillors.
Councillor Iain Sharpe, a Liberal Democrat for Oxhey, wanted to know how durable the materials were as he said the planning committee had seen many fantastic looking designs for buildings, which had degraded or aged not long after being built.
He added: "I remember Charter Place five or 10 years after it was built. It may have looked brilliant when it was built but it looked pretty grim pretty quickly."
Mr Cons said the architects had specifically chosen materials that "weather well" for the project.
Labour councillor Nigel Bell asked what would happen to the current car park element of charter Place in the new scheme.
He was told it would be staying but would be refurbished and the new design would mean shoppers would not be able to see the aged structure from the ground floor.
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