So it’s all over – as reported in today’s local paper. Work on the old Pizza Express building has been halted, with the developers putting the site up for sale. This is nearly a year after the installation of those colourful ‘Cinema Coming Soon’ boards that promised that the cinema would in fact be a reality.
Sue Odell, who has campaigned for the cinema for years, says: “Of course it’s massive shame that the developer has pulled out. The original planning permission was for two types of development: either four storeys with ground floor A3 use, or five storeys with ground floor cinema use.
“If a new owner wants to build a five-storey development with no cinema but A3 use or A1 use they will need to apply for new planning permission. There will be an outcry and we will all object very, very strongly again.”“I think you’ll find that the promise of a cinema was a carrot used by the developers to gain planning permission,” says local Paul Charman. “At the moment, no-one has come forward to actually run a cinema there because it is too small and they’d never make a return. Cynical.”
It seems sad and quite frankly unbelievable – if it’s true – that the current developers couldn’t lure any cinema operator, as they claim.
Do they in fact want the site to return to a (potentially more lucrative) restaurant? Have we all been conned?
“If we can’t have a dedicated cinema there,” says Sue, “personally I wish we could have a multi-use arts space with theatre, cinema and live performances to benefit the local community.”