The owners of the old cinema site have hailed the ‘overwhelmingly positive’ response to their public consultation on the future of the notorious town centre eyesore.
More than 100 people made their way to Trinity Theatre on Monday afternoon to make their views heard and give their feedback to the site’s owner Altitude, which purchased the vacant lot in April.
Director Stephen Tillman said: “We are delighted with the response from local dignitaries and the community to the workshop.
“People have kindly contributed their views and information to help evolve the development of the site.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with people clearly looking for the site to develop as quickly as possible.”
Mr Tillman said the feedback would be analysed ‘in the coming days’ and reiterated his commitment, given to the Times in May, to ideally have a detailed planning application by the end of the year.
“That is the aim, and we have been spending the time getting a feel for the site and figuring out its constraints.”
He added a detailed application, as opposed to an outline planning application, means construction can begin much quicker once it has been approved. The application is likely to be for mixed retails units of shops and restaurants and possibly a small cinema.
Mr Tillman had previously told the Times construction was expected to take around two years, meaning a likely date for completion in 2020.
There was cautious optimism from the borough councillors and council officers present who acknowledged that getting to a consultation stage showed a level of ‘due diligence’ not displayed by previous owners of the site.
Cllr Jane March, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development said her outlook was ‘glass half full’ and wanted to Altitude to deliver a ‘mixed use’ project – but would not support anything that could threaten nearby businesses.
However, Cllr Alan McDermott Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation said although there had been ‘so many broken promises’ since 2000, he had his ‘fingers crossed’ that something will be delivered this time, but warned: “It will have to go through planning first.”
Anyone unable to attend is encouraged to make their views known via an online comment sheet at www.altitudeuk.com/projects.