Cinema plans set to get green light at council meeting

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DEVELOPERS will have to contribute £450,000 to improve local roads if plans for a controversial cinema are given the go-ahead.

The application for a nine-screen cinema at Whiteley is due to be decided on by Winchester City Council’s planning committee at its meeting tomorrow.

The cinema would be part of the consortium Whiteley Co-ownership’s redevelopment of the town centre, with the rebuilt shopping area due to open on May 23.

It will be built on an area that is currently a car park off Whiteley Way, and is expected it would be run by Cineworld.

But the town has long been plagued with transport problems – for most of its life, the only main route in and out has been across junction nine of the M27.

There have been 19 letters opposing the application, with objections on the grounds that it will result in increased traffic congestion, as well as increased levels of noise and light pollution.

A further 10 people wrote in support of the scheme, with people praising the addition of somewhere that would provide evening entertainment.

Whiteley Parish Council is backing the scheme, and its chairman, Cllr Mike Evans, said: ‘It will add to the shopping centre and add to its viability.

‘We did our own consultation, and about 80 per cent of everyone who responded was in favour.

‘And many of those who had objections, I think we’ve managed to sort out in talks with the developer.’

As reported, neighbouring local authority Fareham Borough Council is against the scheme, with councillors saying it is over-sized for Whiteley’s needs.

Reel Cinemas, which operates the five-screen Fareham cinema also objects. In a letter, it said: ‘It is not within a sustainable location and would result in a large number of car-borne trips.’

It added: ‘The size of the cinema is clearly out of scale for a settlement the size of Whiteley. Whiteley currently has a population of approximately 3,236 people... a nine-screen cinema is not considered to be suitable scale either for a settlement the size of Whiteley or for a relatively modest town centre.’

An officer’s report recommends granting permission for the 2,850sq m, two-storey building, as long as the developers agree a green travel plan and a contribution of £450,000, in line with the county council’s transport policy.