DORCHESTER is set to get an outdoor cinema as part of the development of the town's former brewery site.

Andrew Wadsworth revealed the unusual addition to the town's cultural profile in a meeting with Dorchester Chamber of Commerce.

He and co-developer Robert Acland are reaching the final stages of an application by their company Brewery Square Ltd for detailed planning consent on the 11.5-acre site.

Mr Wadsworth said they aimed to have a large outdoor screen of plain Portland stone flanked by copper overlooking the central square.

He said: "We're looking to have a three-screen cinema and the cinema building itself would form an external screen. There are all sorts of possibilities for that."

He said surveys and consultations had shown there was a need for more cultural infrastructure in the town.

The redevelopment of the Dorchester Brewery site included a conversion of the Maltings buildings as an arts centre.

But he also hoped the cinema would be incorporated on the north side of the central square.

Mr Wadsworth said: "We think the cinema would have three screens. Two would have 100 seats and the other 200 or more."

The cinema, provisionally titled Screen-on-the-Square, would have apartments above.

He said the outdoor screen would be ideal for son-et-lumiere entertainment.

"Dorchester has got a history rich enough to accommodate an extremely interesting son-et-lumiere show. It's on the list of things we are keen to promote."

He said the cinema project had commercially sensitive elements that were being explored but was one of many aspects of the development that had drawn positive feedback in the town.

He said: "We think it's a cultural addition to the town. The son-et-lumiere would be the icing on the cake."

He also saw the fountain planned for the centre of the square as a popular feature with its 48 jets adding fun for children who like getting wet and for adults who like to dodge the water.

Mr Wadsworth added: "We want to turn it into an ice rink in the winter."

The square was one of three planned for the wedge-shaped site.

Mr Wadsworth explained that conversions and new buildings were evolving as character zones to ensure buildings matched and complemented each other.

Decorative features from the Victorian and later brewery buildings were being retained and enhanced as utility buildings were being cleared from the site.

But contemporary buildings were also planned including a new health centre, which sparked controversy when it went before West Dorset District Council planners earlier this year, and a new £1.2 million Dorchester South station - the first in the country to be solar-powered.

Mr Wadsworth said the historic brewery chimney was another important feature of the site.

"We're looking at that as part of our green policy for the site. It's possible it could be used for a biomass boiler for hot water using timber waste.

"It's not something we've done before and it's fairly new technology so it might not happen but we want to find out more."

Another option for the chimney - visible from the main town centre - would be as a fun timekeeper.

"It could puff an appropriate number of puffs for the hour perhaps."

Mr Wadsworth said they hoped to submit an application for detailed consent in a month's time.

The site already has permission for the development which will include 617 dwelling units including 185 affordable homes.

Shops, restaurants and a hotel are also included.