A MULTI-MILLION pound project to regenerate Tonbridge town centre, including building a cinema and new leisure centre, has been announced.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council last night voted to proceed with a legal agreement with Sainsbury's to bring forward plans to revitalise the town centre.
The project, which is still subject to planning permission, will see Sainsbury's expanding its supermarket in Angel Lane, building five new non-food retail units and a multi-screen cinema, as well as creating hundreds of jobs.
The Angel Centre, which has been in the town since the early 1980s, will also be closed and a new community and leisure centre will be built on the Bradford Street car park, on the other side of the High Street.
Council leader Nicolas Heslop said he was "delighted" to be securing the deal with Sainsbury's and said regeneration of Tonbridge has been an "absolute priority" for the council.
He added: "It should underpin the town's prosperity for years to come, give shoppers more choice, give retailers more customers and bring us the facilities to compete with other towns.
"We have everyone in mind and are committed to provide a mix of business, leisure and community opportunities right in the heart of the town.
"Best of all, this proposal brings a multi million pound investment to Tonbridge without any cost to the council tax payer."
Double Olympic gold medallist and Hildenborough resident Dame Kelly Holmes, who through the Courier called for more modern leisure facilities, has also given the project her backing.
She said: "It is fantastic news that there is going to be a huge investment into the town.
"I think it is completely right to provide new and modern community and leisure facilities that fit better with local needs and will revitalise Tonbridge completely now and in the future. I am really excited to see the developments move forward."
The project is set to be completed by 2016.
For more on this story, including local reaction, see next week's Kent and Sussex Courier.