A QUESTION mark hangs over the future of part of Aldershot's High Street, including the town's only cinema and the King's Church building.

Consultants have been called in by Rushmoor Council to draw up proposals for redeveloping the area following the closure of the petrol filling station.

They have been instructed to provide a blueprint for the top end of the street, incorporating the cinema, bingo hall, church building and filling station site.

The move has been instigated by the council cabinet which believes the area is ripe for "comprehensive redevelopment".

Members believe a mix of shops and homes might fit the bill, and says the planning and design would be particularly important on such a prominent site.

Council leader John Marsh said the decision to put the site under the microscope had been sparked by the closure of the filling station.

"We have decided to produce a development brief so that the developer has an idea of what we would like to see built on there," he said.

"At present we haven't received a planning application so we have no idea what they have in mind."

He said it was too early to say what, if anything, might happen to the cinema, bingo hall and church building. However, he hoped the development brief would secure the future of the public surface car park adjoining the Prince's Gardens.

"We don't want to lose that because it is a valuable facility for shoppers, especially for those who want to stop off for a short time," added Mr Marsh.

Local people and businesses will be given a chance to examine the blueprint, and have their say, before any final decision is made. The council has been forced to call in the consultants, at a cost of £10,000, because its planning department is too busy to do the job.