A MULTI-SCREEN cinema described as the ‘final major component’ of a town centre’s regeneration has been given the green light.
The 11 members of Winchester City Council’s planning committee were unanimous in their support of the £15m proposals for Whiteley.
The nine-screen cinema, to be run by Cineworld, will be built at the north end of the rebuilt town centre and will form phase two of the regeneration project.
The old Whiteley Village shopping outlet was torn down after being deemed a failure, for a new traditional town centre to be built from scratch.
Final preparations are being made to the new centre which is on course to open on May 23.
Committee member and Whiteley ward councillor Sam Newman-McKie said: ‘I’m very pleased that the developers have communicated well with the residents right from the start, and the objections raised from the public exhibitions have been listened to and mitigation has been put in as a response.
‘It will provide additional, much-needed leisure facilities for the growing community of Whiteley.’
Cllr Barry Lipscomb said: ‘The cinema is the final major component, and it will be immensely good for Whiteley.’
Cllr Robert Johnston added: ‘I well remember that windswept, tumbleweed awful old shopping village.
‘To not put the cinema in would be a mistake. Without it, it would destroy the viability of the whole scheme.’
In a deputation, ward councillor Vivian Achwal said: ‘The development will enhance the development and make Whiteley an exciting place that people will want to visit.’
And Cllr Mike Evans, the leader of Whiteley Parish Council said: ‘We unanimously support the development following a comprehensive consultation, including people on the Fareham side, and also considered other Cineworld operations in the UK.’
He told the committee that the parish council’s consultation came out more than 80 per cent in favour of the cinema – and that ‘virtually all the young people we spoke to’ also backed it.
Neighbouring authority Fareham Borough Council had formally objected to the plans on the grounds that the cinema is too large for the community it will serve, but did not get a say in the final decision.