YATE will finally have its own cinema, more than 10 years after a campaign was first launched, as plans were given the green light by South Gloucestershire Council.
But shopping centre owner’s Crestbridge Corporate Trustees only just won permission for the £12million development, which will include a six-screen cinema operated by Cineworld, three retail units and several restaurants, as more members of the council’s planning committee refused to decide on the plans than those who voted.
In total eight mainly Conservative councillors on the authority’s development control east committee opted to abstain from the final vote, with five in favour and none against.
Crestbridge property developer Mark Hull said approval was great news but the centre would be working on ‘very tight timescales’ to ensure a badgers’ sett is relocated from the site, on scrubland next to the overflow car park on Link Road, during the season allowed by Natural England.
After the same committee deferred the application last month, he told the meeting on Thursday (May 8): “I am disappointed to be here again. The main issue is viability and we are only able to even consider progressing this scheme because we own the land.
“Costs are increasing considerably, by 30 per cent in the last two years, and any further delay will make the scheme completely unviable.”
He added: “We have three top High Street brands lined up for the retail element and several of the country’s leading restaurants ready to take on leases.
“If we don’t get this approved they will go elsewhere and that will be a great loss for Yate as a whole.”
Ward councillor Ruth Davis (Lib Dem, Yate Central) said: “People want this, it is something they have been asking for for 15 years.
“We have 3,000 new houses coming to Yate and this is our opportunity to actively get ahead of the game at Yate Shopping Centre and more importantly Yate town centre. People need facilities and this will enhance the area.
“If it doesn’t happen now it is unlikely to happen again if at all.”
The council’s transport officer had objected to the plans arguing additional traffic would have a ‘severe’ impact on the town centre and Link Road in particular.
Agreeding, Cllr Ben Stokes (Con, Boyd Valley) said: “We have to consider all implications of the application and what has come out absolutely clearly is the impact on transport, traffic and pedestrian access. It just seems to be inadequate in every measure.”
Cllr Jon Hunt (Con, Downend) said: “I am in favour of seeing a cinema in Yate and we know there is great public support and people will be happy it is built but if there is gridlock the public will quickly turn against us.
“I won’t be voting against a cinema but I can’t support it either.”
But Dave Redgewell, from South West Transport Network, told the committee: “You couldn’t ask for a better sustainable transport location as this is right on top of a bus station and there is a subsidised night bus in the area.
“A night-time economy is something this council is very slow to pick up on."
Cllr Pat Hockey (Lib Dem, Frampton Cotterell), the authority’s heritage champion, said even though the plans included the demolition of two locally listed buildings, the benefits to Yate were overwhelming.
“Yate has a long history of being a soulless dormitory town,” she said. “Local people, led by the town council, have made it into a real place and real towns have cinemas, they have night-time economies and like it or not they have traffic jams.”
She said many local people using the cinema or restaurants would walk, cycle, car share or get a taxi to the venue.
“Without a shadow of a doubt I know this is the right thing for Yate,” she said. “And we should all be voting for it otherwise we will be living with this on our consciences for a long time to come.”
Andrew Lowrey, Yate Shopping Centre manager, said the centre was indebted to the public for its support.
"It's a great day for Yate and I can't thank all our supporters enough,” he said. “We have been working towards this moment for a long time and all we've got to do now is build it.
"You won't see diggers on the site tomorrow but rest assured having got this far we are working hard behind the scenes to get this project up and running as soon as possible.”
Work to relocate the badgers will get underway immediately and it is hoped work will start on site late this year and completed in late 2015. The development will create 250 new jobs and 150 during construction.