Objections lodged to cinema plan
By Liz HearnshawSCORES of residents have lodged objections to the plan to bring a long-awaited cinema to the heart of an historic town.The majority of objections arose after a computer-generated image of the eight-screen multiplex cinema planned for Bury St Edmunds was unveiled, with some residents labelling the building design as “cheap and dated”.
By Liz Hearnshaw
SCORES of residents have lodged objections to the plan to bring a long-awaited cinema to the heart of an historic town.
The majority of objections arose after a computer-generated image of the eight-screen multiplex cinema planned for Bury St Edmunds was unveiled, with some residents labelling the building design as “cheap and dated”.
It was also likened to a “row of lock-up garages in a blighted inner city estate” and inappropriate for a historic market town steeped in architectural heritage.
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Concerns were also expressed over the possible noise and disturbance resulting from the development, earmarked for the town's Parkway.
Planning officers at St Edmundsbury Borough Council must now wade through dozens of public responses to the cinema plan following the close of a three-week consultation period yesterday.
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A summary of both residents' concerns - and those letters written in support of the proposal - will be presented to the council's development control committee for a final decision in December.
Among those taking part in the consultation was George Agnew, of Bradfield St George, who said: “I have been an enthusiastic supporter for the idea of a multi-screen cinema for Bury, so it was with eager anticipation that I waited the unveiling of the plans for the building.
“When I saw the artist's impression of the building, I was deeply disappointed. What I saw before me was what must be the cheapest, least imaginative, low budget version of a multiplex that it is possible to have.
“Bury is a beautiful town architecturally. Too often we take this for granted, but it should be a source of great pleasure and pride. The thought that our town deserves nothing better than this fills me with horror.”
Siobhan Kemp, from Bury St Edmunds, added: “I cannot believe that the council will allow such a cheap, simplistic unconsidered design to be built.
“This complex is ugly. I am no architect, but this is the dullest, most boring façade I have seen in a long time.
“I beg the council to make sure the proposed building is funky and upbeat, with a bit of excitement - something to be proud of which people will want to visit.”
Jamie Robertson said: “While I am completely in favour of having a new cinema in Bury and have despaired over the years of endless wranglings over minor inconveniences, I am appalled at the design.
“I have no objections to a modern design, but this is utterly featureless and resembles a cross between a row of lock-up garages in a blighted inner city estate and a plastic supermarket circa 1973.
“A little bit of originality would be nice, a little bit of ostentation even, a little but of excitement and bravado - anything but this hopeless block of pre-packed wrapping.”
Ward councillor, Paul Farmer, said he would suggest amendments to the existing proposal in an effort to calm any residents' fears about noise and anti-social behaviour.
“Many older residents nearby are concerned about alcohol being served to those leaving the cinema very late at night and the potential for rowdy behaviour,” he added.
“That is why I have proposed that the building closes at 11pm on weekdays and midnight at weekends, and only serves alcohol with sit-down meals.
“Subject to these and other suggestions, I support this application because I believe that most people in Abbeygate ward, Bury and the surrounding area want a multiplex.
“I just want to ensure that the needs of those who live in the Parkway area are not ignored.”
But Jeff Stevens, deputy leader of the council, said he was confident the multiplex plan would go-ahead and provide improved facilities for everyone in the borough.
“We cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time, but we think this is the right thing for Bury,” he added.
“This project has taken a very long time to come, with all sorts of difficulties, and I hope those who have raised objections will see it is in the interests of the borough to get a cinema on this site.
“Clearly, we will do our best to accommodate suggestions, but ultimately it is down to the planning committee to make decisions on the application and the building's appearance.”
Cine-UK, which will operate the completed Cineworld multiplex, declined to comment on the objections.