A LONG-awaited £50 million cinema and leisure complex has moved another step closer to becoming reality after plans for the scheme were recommended for approval.

Turnstones Estate’s Northern Gateway Leisure Park development is set to bring a Cineworld cinema and a host of leisure facilities to land off Cuckoo Farm West, just off the A12 near Colchester United’s Jobserve Community Stadium.

Plans feature a 12-screen cinema with Superscreen and 4DX capabilities, seven restaurants, three leisure units - mini-golf, bowling and a climbing centre - and two drive-thru eateries.

A 90-bed hotel, set to be run by Travelodge, is also set to be built as well as a 750-space car park with dedicated electric vehicle charging points.

The scheme has been in development since 2015 and a previous iteration of the scheme was approved four-years-ago, but changes in the leisure market and Brexit led to unexpected delays.

However, the latest planning application for the site will be considered by Colchester Council’s planning committee next Thursday.

Planning officers have recommended the proposals be approved, subject to a Section 106 agreement being completed.

A report said: “The design, scale, form and layout of the proposal is considered appropriate for this context and would have an acceptable impact within the landscape.

“The proposal incorporates a mixture of contemporary building forms which are similar in character to the previous approval and incorporate some design improvements, including material detailing.

“There are no objections from a highway safety point of view and the impact of traffic generation is acceptable, including upon the capacity of A12 junction 28.”

It added: “It is not considered there will be any material detriment to neighbouring residential amenity.”

If plans are approved, work will begin at the start of 2021, for completion in 2022/23.

Colchester Council’s firm Colchester Amphora Trading is project managing the scheme along with neighbouring plans for 350 new homes, a private hospital, homes for elderly residents and commercial floorspace.

The nearby Northern Gateway Sport Park is set to open by Easter.