Developer may put town’s cinema proposals on hold
A town with no cinema could still end up with two new multiplexes opening within a year of each other, despite planners giving the go-ahead to a development without one.
The saga of Trowbridge’s cinema wars has taken another twist after a developer won permission for a Morrison’s supermarket on part of the old Bowyers’ pork-pie factory site in the centre of Trowbridge. It is one of the biggest town-centre regeneration sites in the region, and London-based developer Prorsus wanted to build a Cineworld multiplex cinema and leisure park, with restaurants, shops and bars, on the famous location.
Hundreds of people marched through Trowbridge town centre last year in support of the idea, and a social network campaign to call for the Bowyers’ site to be developed is still active.
But councillors turned the Cineworld idea down because just months earlier they had given permission for another multiplex, an Odeon, to be built a stone’s throw away at another derelict site in Trowbridge town centre.
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Planning officials argued that the town, which currently doesn’t have one cinema, could not support two new venues at once.
Prorsus appealed but agreed they would hold back from demanding a Government planning inspector’s decision until a ‘Plan B’ idea for a £46 million redevelopment, which would include a supermarket, petrol station, a leisure area, pub, restaurants, cafés and shops went to the planners. Wiltshire Council’s planning committee approved the back-up plan, and work could be completed within 18 months if Prorsus go ahead with the development now, but they are considering their options. Prorsus boss Angus Horner said the planning inspector considering the original Cineworld application had asked to be kept informed of the progress of the back-up plan. It will now be down to Prorsus to either withdraw its appeal against the refusal of a Cineworld, or to press on and fight for the second cinema.
“We are considering our options on how we can secure the best future for the Bowyers’ site,” he said.
Campaigner Rebecca Millard, who organised the protest march in favour of the Cineworld, said it was a “shame” if the cinema wasn’t included in the end, although she said she was pleased the Bowyers’ site had got permission for something. It has been empty for five years since Bowyers moved production of its Melton Mowbray pork pies to Leicestershire to comply with new EU rules insisting pies must be made close to the town that gives them their name..