'Approve cinema plans or we may have to sell', warn Yate Shopping Centre owners
10:25am Thursday 1st May 2014 in News By Alexandra Womack, senior reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury
THE owners of Yate Shopping Centre have urged South Gloucestershire Council to next week approve plans for the town’s long awaited cinema or face the consequences.
Crestbridge Corporate Trustees, which bought the centre in 2005, said if the £12million proposal for a six-screen cinema and associated new shops and restaurants on land next to the overflow car park on Link Road is not approved it may consider selling the shopping centre altogether.
Crestbridge property developer Mark Hull told the Gazette the scheme, which was deferred by the council’s development control east committee last month, was pivotal to the future of Yate.
“We have owned the centre for 10 years,” he said. “In that time we haven’t missed a single town centre strategy meeting and although it has been difficult, with the recession particularly, we have persevered and have delivered on our masterplan getting Tesco to build their Extra store and building the very successful East Walk scheme.
"We are bucking the national trend and operators who previously dismissed Yate want to come here.
“We look at the cinema as our next commitment."
Cineworld would operate the cinema and high-profile retailers and restaurants are said to have agreed leases or the new units.
Mr Hull added: “We are talking about big name concerns and they have seen what we intend to build and know it will work.
“But they can go anywhere they want and if the scheme is delayed they will look elsewhere.”
He said increasing building costs, which have gone up from £9million last year, may also mean a further delay would make it unaffordable.
The project has the backing of Yate Town Council, Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb and hundreds of residents who have signed a petition calling for the cinema to be built. But it was deferred by councillors because of concerns over the amount of traffic the site would generate and the relocation of a badgers’ set, which is only permitted between June and November.
“We are working to a critical time plan with the badgers now,” said Mr Hull. “Everyone knows we have to get planning permission now. Even deferring until May might mean it can’t happen this year.
“This is a massive investment in the future of Yate and something people want. It is the centre's 50th anniversary next year and it would be a great way to celebrate with the opening of a new cinema.
“Otherwise I expect the shopping centre will be under the ownership of someone else.”
Shopping centre manager Andrew Lowrey said: “I have been here since 1998 and have watched five owners come and go, they have been here for the short time for investment purposes.
“Crestbridge came in with long-term aspirations and have really worked with stakeholders on a vision for Yate. They have invested not just money but time and to see that disappear would be a real shame.”
Council planning officers have recommended the plans for approval for the second time in as many months. The application will be decided at a meeting at Kingswood Civic Centre on Thursday, May 8 (3pm).
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