CONTROVERSIAL plans to include a seven-screen cinema as part of a new town centre development were approved by councillors last night (Tuesday, April 1).

After 11 public speakers stated the case for and against the seven screens in Catterick Garrison, ten members of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee voted for the proposal after new information was made available, with two against.

The decision had been deferred from last month’s meeting, when seven councillors voted against the proposal, and six were in favour.

Previous proposals for a five-screen cinema on the site were approved last year, but amended plans for a seven-screen facility were then submitted. 

The cinema plan is part of a wider development which would see shops and restaurants built in a new town centre, potentially creating 700 jobs.

Jonathan Hart, director of Lingfield (Catterick) Limited, told planning committee members the decision to increase the number of screens from five to seven had not been engineered to threaten the council.

He said: “The town centre (plan) must be delivered as a composite whole and evidence exists that legally, should the application be refused there is a domino effect with regard to the leases – the retailers will not come if there is no seven-screen cinema because of a series of inter-dependencies between the anchor tenants’ leases.”

Councillor Mick Griffiths said since the last meeting he had learned that the area's Local Enterprise Partnership would bid for Government cash of up to £1.75m if the scheme was given the go-ahead to improve road infrastructure.

But Rob Younger, director of Richmond's Station Cinema, said if Empire Cinemas pulled out he would provide an alternative.

“Despite making this offer we have heard nothing back.

“The Station Cinema is constantly being quoted as screening less mainstream films but from this Friday we will be showing the top four films in the UK.”

Philip Wicks, former chairman of Richmond Business and Tourism Association, added that while the garrison development is welcomed it should not be at the cost of The Station.

However a petition set up by Catterick Garrison residents has collected almost 2,500 signatures of support in just three days.

Cerys Scotting, 15, told councillors she felt there was nothing for young people in Richmondshire.

“I actually love coming to the Station, however I usually find the film I want to see is either sold out or show times are not convenient because of public transport restrictions,” she said.

“To be honest, I find Richmondshire in general quite boring, and I think a development like this would make it more exciting for young people.”

Councillors voted to approve the scheme with ten in favour.