After more than a decade without a cinema, people in Fort William could soon be welcoming the return of the silver screen.
Plans are in the pipeline to change two empty shops into a new picture house.
And a total of 12 jobs could be created if the ambitious project is given the green light.
The Lochaber Cinema Group want to turn two vacant shops – Wynne’s the butchers and the Ocean Takeaway – at the east end of the High Street into a cinema which would have two screens and would be able to seat more than 130 people.
They originally wanted to reopen the town’s old cinema in Cameron Square, but decided this route would be too expensive.
The group’s chairperson, Marie MacPherson, said: “There were a lot of problems with the old cinema building. It closed at the end of 2004 and has lain empty ever since.
“Among other things we found that the lift is too small for disabled access as the cinema screens are on the first floor. It would have been very expensive to get this changed.
“Access at the shops is much easier and it won’t cost as much to combine the two of them. The butchers is ready to be converted as a wall just needs to be knocked through, but the takeaway needs to be completely stripped and doors need to be blocked off.”
Ms MacPherson explained that this building work would cost around £235,000 and another £150,000 will need to be spent on seating, equipment and the two screens.
She said: “We received a development grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, HIE, which enabled us to get the plans drawn up and we will also be applying for lottery funding through the Scottish Land Fund to enable us to buy the shops. We estimate the whole project will cost around £600,000.”
A public consultation on the plans will be held in August.
Ms MacPherson added: “We want to employ eight part-time staff at the cinema. We also run Kids Clubs where we show films to youngsters in Caol, Corpach and Kinlochleven. We want to expand this to take in places such as Spean Bridge and Mallaig, so we’ll also need an extra four people for that.”
Anyone who would like to comment on the group’s cinema plans can do so via the planning link on Highland Council’s website.