Last week’s decision by Scarborough Council’s Planning Committee to refuse the cinema at North Bay must be one of the best, most important and positive decisions it has ever made.
Why? The man in the street probably thinks that Scarborough needs a cinema anywhere. We do need one badly, but the council has already granted planning permission for a cinema in the town centre, on council-owned land, so why isn’t that development being allowed to go ahead and why did the council promote a rival and unnecessary proposal at North Bay? (Where it also has a financial interest in the surrounding Sands development). Prospective cinema operators must be confused.
On top of that, national and local planning rules are, for good reasons that readers will understand, designed to ensure that development such as shops, restaurants, visitor facilities, offices, cinemas, etc are channelled into the town centre to reinforce the viability and attractiveness of the centre.
The rules are that development should only go out of the town centre where a developer can show it is not possible to locate in the centre. In this case, it surely was impossible for the developer, and the council, to show that there was no town centre site, when a permission is in the bag! (And there are other sites too.)
Imagine what Costa Coffee or Pizza Express must think, or others who are about to invest in shops, clubs or restaurants in the middle of Scarborough, when they see the council pushing customers, upon which they rely, out of town.
Why should any future developer want to invest in the town centre, when they know the council might undermine their investment?
A vibrant town centre is all about having a range of uses: walking from office to pub, café to shop, restaurant to cinema or from theatre to club, all supported by good rail, bus, taxi and parking facilities; something the North Bay cannot provide to the same extent as the town centre.
The residents of the north side should also be glad that the chance of late bars and nightlife, which would inevitably follow a cinema, has been much reduced. Remember the local objections to the suggestion of this type of thing last year?
Well done democracy and well done the lead objector, the Civic Society.