Doubts remain over plan to build cinema and bowling alley in Waterlooville

  • Councillors are set to approve plans to transform former BAE site, but the end result could be leisure or retail use
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A BID to build a new multi-screen cinema and bowling alley is set to take another tentative step forward.

But a big question mark remains over whether the proposed leisure facilities will be dropped in favour of new shops amid the redevelopment of Waterlooville’s BAE site.

Developers have admitted they are struggling to find leisure operators to move in.
However, a planning report to go before Havant Borough Council next Thursday states that the executive director of a bowling company would be interested in setting up shop in Waterlooville – but only if a cinema was on the site.

Councillors have been recommended to approve plans for a change of use at E Block – the one remaining building on the 12-acre site off Hambledon Road.

Developers are asking for it to be converted to leisure and/or non-food retail use.

If no leisure operator comes forward, the plans suggest the building could become a DIY or homeware store.

But people in Waterlooville are urging the council and the developers to work together to make sure the leisure facilities come to fruition.

Janet Johnston, secretary of Waterlooville Business Association, said: ‘We certainly do not need another out-of-town shopping centre.

‘Leisure facilities would be better.

‘There’s an awful lot of people out here and an awful lot of the town still being built.

‘This town is going to be huge and there are many people who don’t drive.

‘We desperately need some leisure locally.’

Sarah Garland, who works at The Pink Party Shop in Waterlooville, said: ‘Young people need something here and cinemas are always good.’

A Lidl supermarket and a McDonald’s drive-through are also on the cards for the redevelopment, but will be dealt with separately.

A report to go before councillors states: ‘The marketing statement submitted with the application suggests that cinema operators are not interested in the site at this point in time and the bowling company has confirmed that this would be required as an anchor in order for them to be interested.

‘The applicant has contacted bowling companies as part of the marketing process and the representation comment above has been corroborated by the market research.’

It adds that planning permission will allow ‘further marketing’ for an ‘accepted leisure use’.

The report adds that developing the site will help the town’s economy.

The meeting takes place at The Plaza in Havant from 5pm.