TRUSTEES of a charity-run cinema have rejected a developer’s offer of compensation in an ongoing row over the creation of a new multiplex cinema.
The Station Cinema, Richmond, has been offered £75,000 by Catterick Garrison town centre developers Lingfield, to have been paid if an amended planning bid is accepted by Richmondshire District Council next week.
Permission for a five screen cinema at the town centre development was granted by Richmondshire District Council last May.
Despite concerns over pressure the new provision would create, operators of the Station Cinema did not object to the plans, but Lingfield amended the proposals to ask for permission to build a seven screen cinema which was rejected by a narrow margin by planners.
Coun John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council, gave the developers a month to return with a revised proposal.
Ian Hepworth, Deputy chairman of the Station Trustees, said: “While the amount of money seems attractive, and we have a responsibility to look after the financial well-being of The Station, we cannot allow a donor to wield influence or offset their offer of a donation against a planning committee decision.
“While the developer has not specifically asked us to withdraw our opposition, it is implicit in what they have offered, and the board just could not sanction that.”
Geoff Prince, speaking on behalf of the developers, told last month’s planning committee members that without the cinema, other high street chains that expressed interest in having a store in the new centre would almost certainly walk away.
A petition in support of the development has also been started by Catterick Garrison resident Stuart Styles, who said: “I’m getting concerned that the development could be at risk if the application is refused.
“There is not a lot to do for families in the garrison so this really is much-needed. I don’t think it would damage the Station Cinema – it is a very different model to the type proposed for Catterick Garrison."
A spokesman from Lingfield (Catterick) Ltd said: “Around 1,500 Catterick Garrison residents have signed a petition in support of the development in the last couple of days alone, and they have said they will continue to campaign to see it happen.
“We want this development to go ahead and looking at it from a planning policy point of view we feel we have a very strong case.
“We don’t feel it has to be a case of one cinema or the other – people just want to have a larger choice of films closer to home.”
The next meeting of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee is on Tuesday, April 1 at 6.30pm at Mercury House.