A NINE-SCREEN cinema and four new restaurants are to be built in Poole's Dolphin Shopping Centre if a new scheme is approved.

Bosses at Empire Cinemas have signed a 25-year lease for the first multiplex in the town centre. The plans feature an open-air, rooftop screen.

Planning permission is being sought to redevelop the former Argos store and adjoining units into a new-build cinema complex. The complex, which will include the restaurants, is due to open at the end of 2018.

"We are delighted to be partnering with Legal & General and to be returning to Poole as part of the Dolphin Shopping Centre," said Justin Ribbons, chief executive officer of Empire Cinemas.

"With nine screens, including Empire's own large format IMPACT Screen, D-Box and an open-air, rooftop screen, we hope Empire Cinemas will further improve the area’s leisure offer and evening economy, alongside a host of new dining choices arriving to the centre.”

Legal & General bought the shopping centre in 2013.

As reported in the Daily Echo in June, developers have launched an 18-month improvement programme, which will be completed at the end of next year.

The multi-million pound overhaul will unlock a £26 million programme of investment.

Work to internal malls and entrances, public spaces and facades of Falkland Square will take place.

Kingland Crescent will also be improved.

Alongside this, Poole council has invested £1.5m into upgrading the multi-storey car park, which it owns.

John Grinnell, shopping centre manager, said: “The introduction of this exciting multiplex cinema together with an array of dining choices will provide significant additional amenity for visitors to the Dolphin Centre.

"This latest investment will further shift the shopping centre towards a truly family-oriented offer, and bring an element of trade that will extend into the evenings, giving more reasons for residents and tourists alike to visit throughout the day.”

Eateries Delfino Lounge, Starbucks and ice cream parlour Sprinkles have recently opened at the shopping centre.

Last summer, Poole's Empire cinema was sold to the Cineworld chain.

The 16-screen multiplex at Tower Park was rebranded as a Cineworld after the announcement that it was one of five acquired in a £94 million deal.

Cineworld Group revealed it had bought five multiplexes from Cinema Holdings Limited, the company that owns the Empire venues.