Plans for a major expansion of the Highlands’ biggest shopping mall, creating a new multiplex cinema, could take another step forward next week.
The major new leisure complex will include no less than five restaurants.
Councillors will be asked to approve multimillion-pound proposals to extend the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness, bringing more than 200 new jobs to the city.
No objections have been received.
Owner F&C Reit wants to redevelop part of the Eastgate beside Falcon Square.
An eight-screen cinema, seating 1,100 people, will be created by extending the building into the square and adding additional floors.
The plans were widely welcomed when they were revealed in April this year, with many business leaders expressing the hope that the development will boost footfall in the city centre.
Craig Duncan, Inverness Business Improvement District chairman, said: “I congratulate the Eastgate Centre for their ambition and confidence in Inverness city centre. This can only be an asset to the daytime and the night-time economies.”
F&C Reit took over the shopping centre last year in a £250million deal.
The firm said the development would bring 220 jobs to the Highland capital – 100 of them at the construction stage.
Joanne Wilkes, head of retail for F&C Reit, said: “We think that there is a great opportunity in the centre of the city for more food and beverage and leisure facilities.
“What we are trying to do is add another attraction to the city.”
The clothing chain Monsoon will be relocated as part of the alterations, with three restaurants taking its place on the ground floor overlooking Falcon Square. The other two restaurants will be created on the first floor, along with extra retail units.
The cinema will be provided on a new second floor.
While there are no operators attached to the cinema and restaurants so far, Ms Wilkes said that there has been significant interest from several companies keen to come to Inverness.
According to a report to go before councillors at the south planning applications committee on Tuesday, only two letters were received – both in support.
Crown Community Council said that the facilities would enhance the area but that there would be a considerable visual change to the facade facing the square. The organisation asked the council to investigate compensatory planning gain to offset the loss of public space.