A MULTI-MILLION pound project to build a cinema in Yate hangs in the balance this week after a planning application was deferred to a later meeting.

South Gloucestershire Council’s development control (east) committee could not make up its mind on the £12million scheme for a six-screen Cineworld cinema and a development of new shops and restaurants on land next to the overflow car park on Link Road.

Councillors agreed to defer the application to its next meeting, on May 8, but investors in the project, Yate Shopping Centre owners Crestbridge Corporate Trustees, have warned if planning permission is not granted, the entire development may have to be shelved.

A statement on the shopping centre’s website said: “The development timescales are critically tight but if we don't get planning permission in May, it is more than likely the project will die.”

Operators for the restaurants and new shops have not yet been revealed but several leases have been signed and the shopping centre said they were all leading High Street brands.

Dan Bramwell, spokesman for the centre, said: “We are very disappointed by the outcome of the meeting and we are working as hard as we can to get things in place by May 8 including a request to give a technical briefing to councillors ourselves.

“We know this is a complex application but we have been working on this for five years and if it doesn’t get approved it is likely another scheme will not come forward for at least 10 to 15 years.”

Yate residents and the town council have shown overwhelming support for the scheme.

Ward member Cllr Ruth Davis (Lib Dem, Yate Central) said: “It has been a long-held wish of residents for about 15 years. We already have lots of new housing in Yate, with another 3,000 homes coming, and this is one opportunity to get the shopping centre ahead of the game.

“It will meet community needs, bring better shopping, a night time economy and it will secure the future of Yate Shopping Centre.”

She added: “I am really disappointed it didn’t get the green light straight away but I am just desperately hoping that remaining questions are answered.”

The planning committee raised questions over traffic congestion in the area if the development were to go ahead, after highways engineers predicted it would generate an extra 2,733 two-way movements on Saturdays.

However, Crestbridge argued it paid South Gloucestershire Council £750,000 for a traffic survey of Yate when it won planning permission for the Tesco Extra store three years ago but the money has still not be spent.

Further issues over access and the removal of six trees were queried by councillors and further information will now be sought before the next meeting.

Long-term supporter of a cinema for Yate, MP Steve Webb said: “This project has the huge support of the large majority of Yate residents and time is clearly of the essence.

“I hope that any outstanding issues can be resolved as a matter of urgency so that approval can be given at the May meeting of the committee.”