NEARLY 100 applications to transform St Albans Civic Centre car park into a cinema complex with housing and car parking, have been handed in to the council's leisure department.

Last October, St Albans District Council invited developers to submit their ideas for a mixed development on the Bricket Road site and has since received more than 95 applications.

Potential developers have until January 30 to submit their plans, which would ideally include flats and parking for residents, council staff and cinema-goers.

In 2002, developers Simons Estates pulled out of a £15million scheme to build a multi-screen cinema, a six-storey car park and a large shopping area a month before the work was due to start.

The quest to get a new cinema for the city was launched in 1995 when the Odeon in London Road closed.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, portfolio holder for leisure Councillor John Newman said he had seen at least three "exceedingly good" schemes for the site.

Once the applications had been whittled down, he envisaged that the council would have to make some radical decisions over the height of the development and whether it could include affordable or key-worker housing. Councillor Chris Oxley said there was definitely a call for a cinema in St Albans. He said because it was such an important scheme, the cabinet should consider up to three different development schemes for the site.

Cabinet members agreed that the working group, which includes the strategic director of enterprise and civic environment, should also include three members of the council's community services team.

The working party would hear presentations from a shortlist of developers and would recommend a few of their favourite schemes to the strategic director. He would then pick at least three potential developers, who would be asked to make a presentation to cabinet in March. Councillors would then put forward their first choice to full council.