Chester's only remaining cinema will flicker out of existence in a fortnight to make way for a new 24-hour supermarket.
Cineworld on the Greyhound Retail Park will close its doors on Thursday, October 10.
This leaves the city’s filmgoers having to travel to Vue in Ellesmere Port as their nearest cinema.
And staff at the nearby Ten Pin Bowling alley claim their base will close at the beginning of November although this has not been confirmed by head office despite repeated enquiries.
Cineworld spokeswoman Lindsey Rossell said: “We can confirm that Chester Cineworld will close on October 10. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers.”
In August, Land Securities secured permission at the site for a supermarket, rumoured to be an Asda, which is expected to create 173 new jobs.
But the scheme will involve the demolition of Cineworld and the adjacent bowling alley unit will be extended to create the new store, a home shopping unit and café.
Ward councillor Reg Jones supported the principle of development but raised concerns about the loss of leisure facilities when he addressed the planning committee.
He said: “We are changing the character and nature of the Greyhound Park – the loss of the cinema and the bowling alley.
“While I accept we can’t force commercial ventures to stay there, we have made no provision for leisure facilities. We have a growing reputation as a cultural desert as we flip flop from one cultural aspiration to another.
“There are unintended consequences to this and that will be increases in anti-social behaviour. Our young people need facilities and they are being denied them.”
Cineworld will open an 11-screen cinema within a £13m extension at Broughton Shopping Park due for completion in 2015. And the company already planned to close its Chester multiplex before the supermarket plan emerged.
Chester’s only city centre cinema closed in June 2007 but the council's proposed theatre project, based on the former Odeon, does include a single screen cinema although it is not due to open until 2016.
There are also plans for an eight- screen cinema within the long-awaited £300m Northgate Development regeneration scheme but this would not be until 2018 at the earliest.
Meanwhile, staff at the Ten Pin Bowling alley have told the Chronicle a staff meeting involving human resources took place on Thursday and the outlet will close on November 3, with the loss of about 20 jobs. No-one from the Bedford-based head office has so far returned any of our calls.
Asda’s senior property communications manager Philip Bartram said: “We have no specific comment to make at this time.”
Venue changed our lives
A Chester couple who found love working at Cineworld say the cinema ‘changed their lives’.
Jennifer and Barry Hopson met in November 2008, when she was working there as a part time team member in between her studies at the University of Chester and he was a full-time projectionist.
Love bloomed and two years later the couple welcomed their daughter Sophie, marrying a year later and completing their family with son Riley in 2012.
But later that year, the couple were devastated when the cinema went digital, meaning Barry’s job was made redundant.
With two small babies and virtually no income, Jennifer decided to set up her own business from home making ‘unique but useful’ baby gifts such as embroidered towelling gifts, diaper cakes and other hampers.
Finding her feet with Blissful Baby Gifts wasn’t easy but Jennifer, 25, was thankful she at least still had her job at Cineworld to tide them over.
When she heard last week’s news that the cinema was to close within weeks, she was distraught.
“I was holding on to this job until I was ready to stand on my feet and have an income from the business,” she said.
“Barry was out of work for nine months before he got a temporary job at Chester Zoo but he’s now coming to the end of his seasonal contract so from the beginning of November will be out of work, just like me, although he does do volunteer work.
“Unfortunately we are again left in the situation of no work because of this closure.
“I just don’t understand how it was approved with Chester having not even a minimum of entertainment in the city.
“But Cineworld have been very supportive and I will be so sorry to see it go because it means our memories will fade.”
Jennifer added: “The cinema has changed my life, what with meeting my husband there. I would have never imagined it would end up like this.
“I will go full-time with my business which has grown and grown – I really enjoy it, I just hope it turns out to be a success.”
Jennifer’s Blissful Baby Gifts business provides unique but affordable gifts for mums-to-be and baby showers. It recycles children’s baby clothes into keepsakes and blankets, using the slogan ‘keeping memories alive’.