South West Wales

Developer confident on Llanelli cinema and hotel plans

The Llanelli East gate Development under construction
Image caption Much of the steelwork for Llanelli's East Gate town centre development has been erected in the last few weeks.

The developer behind a cinema, hotel and leisure complex in Llanelli says he is confident it will open next year despite the tough economic climate.

Scott Davidson of Henry Davidson Developments Ltd says East Gate in the Carmarthenshire town will be one of the UK's few such schemes to open in 2012.

Much of the steelwork has been erected in the past few weeks.

It is hoped the site, along with a new theatre and other improvements, will help to regenerate the town centre.

Llanelli has been affected by a large out-of-town retail park, and about 175 jobs will be created at East Gate once it is fully let, with 80 during construction.

The Odeon chain has signed up to operate the six-screen cinema while Travelodge will run the hotel.

The rest of the development consists of restaurants, bars, office space, small retail units and a new bus interchange which is already open.

"We are very pleased with the progress but there is a lot of work still to do," Mr Davidson told the BBC Wales News website.

"Yes, it's been a challenge, but I think everything is a challenge at the moment.

"It's one of the most difficult periods in terms of the economy we have seen, let alone property development.

Image caption The complex is due to open in time for Christmas 2012

"This is of very few town centre schemes that will open [in the UK] in 2012."

He said now that potential tenants could see the complex taking shape he was hopeful most units would be let by the time it opens next November.

"We are in discussions with five or six retail operators and half a dozen leisure operators at the moment about the remaining space," he added.

"One problem is getting them to believe a scheme is really going to happen and now the steel is going up people can really see the progress."

Llanelli's town centre has been hit by the development of Trostre retail park to the Swansea side of the town.

"Trostre is a good thing and terrible thing," said Mr Davidson, who is the company's managing director.

"It's put Llanelli on the map [in terms of retail] but it has had an effect on the town centre."

He said once East Gate was completed, along with the adjacent £14.6m cultural centre and 500-seat theatre, town centre library extension and renovation of Llanelly House, he was certain the town centre's fortunes would change.

"Carmarthenshire council is very proactive. There is already a lot going on in Llanelli and I think it will be a really nice leisure offer," he added.

Image caption Odeon will operate the six screen cinema while Travel Lodge have signed up to run the hotel

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