A CINEMA planned for Fort William has been granted permission and work is expected to begin on the two-screen building in about a month.

West Highland businessman Angus MacDonald said the cinema and cafe bar in the centre of the town is scheduled for completion in 15 months.

Mr MacDonald does not plan to make money from the venture, but instead give something back to the community in which his family has lived for centuries.

He said: “I was very keen on getting the right site, it was the old town hall until 1975 when it burned down."

It was later a shop owned by DV8.

“I bought that in October last year and appointed Dualchas the architects and Galbraiths as the project manager.

“We came up with a building designed around a traditional highland building, which was design-led by me.

“I think it is a very warm, attractive traditional building."

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Mr MacDonald set up three open days which attracted 450 people. The construction firm from Ayr, 3b, has prepared the site.

He added: “We have achieved planning permission, so in record time through to planning.

“We are now waiting on a building warrant and I suspect we will start building in a month.

“The plan is to open in time for the six day motorbike trials next May, so 15 months from now.


There will be one 100-seater screen and an 85-seater screen, and an 80-seat cafe bar, above, and a terrace overlooking the square.

With no other funders, it is expected to cost Mr MacDonald “several million” pounds.

He said: “I will be the owner but I don’t expect to make a penny in return from it.

“It’s got to cover its costs when it’s up and running and it’s got to cover the depreciation and all that and we’ll have to buy new stuff every 10 years."

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He added: “Basically I’m doing it for the town. My family have lived there for 1,000 years.

“I will pay what it takes to get a fantastic building."

He’s no film buff he says but “enjoys going to a good film”.

“It is the people and the economy of the West Highlands that interest me.”

He added: “We have 440,000 tourists in Fort William and there’s not a lot for them to do on a wet evening.”


Mr MacDonald, above, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist and has sold businesses he built up for more than £151 million, this week selling his Specialist Waste Recycling firm to Biffa for over £30m in a deal from which he earned about £8m.

He has set up a book shop in the town and is responsible for founding the Caledonian Challenge event which has raised more than £15m for good causes.

Highland Council planning documents confirm full planning permission has been granted for the project subject to minor conditions including providing exterior finish details and works provision information.