THE £90 million Waterside development in Trowbridge took a significant step forward yesterday.

Wiltshire County Council, West Wiltshire District Council and developer Modus signed the development agreement which brings the project closer to starting on site.

Since Modus was given preferred developer status six months ago, negotiations have been taking place in order for all involved to be satisfied with the deal.

The Waterside project aims to breathe new life into seven acres of land along the River Biss with the creation of a multiplex cinema, bowling alley, restaurants and other leisure uses, new library, offices and high-quality apartments.

The proposed development will be built on land that is currently part of the County Hall complex, including Trowbridge library, which is owned by the county council, together with Court Street car park, owned by the district council.

Waterside is part of the Transforming Trowbridge plans that aim to regenerate the town centre over the next two decades.

Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, Wiltshire County Council's cabinet member for environment, transport and economic development, said: "The signing of this contract is a significant step forward for this major project. We shall now be working with our partners to ensure this scheme becomes a reality as soon as possible."

Cllr Michael Mounde, West Wiltshire District Council's portfolio holder for economy and regeneration, added: "Modus has shown that it can bring big names to Trowbridge, with a Vue cinema, Bowlplex, Premier Travel Inn and others already committed to the Waterside scheme.

"We can now look forward to a detailed planning application coming forward for the site."

Jamie Bunce from Modus said: "Exchanging the development agreement is the first major step towards the Waterside scheme becoming reality.

"We have been delighted with the proactive approach of both Wiltshire County Council and West Wiltshire District Council in this exciting scheme and are looking forward to a busy and productive 2008."

Steve Richards, head of operations for Wiltshire and Swindon at the South West RDA, said: "The Waterside scheme will act as a catalyst for further development over the next ten years and I look forward to seeing Trowbridge reach its full potential."