by Wetherby Liberal Democrats on 19 March, 2019
David Hopps, Liberal Democrat candidate for Wetherby ward in the forthcoming Leeds City Council elections, wants more answers on behalf of nearby residents before throwing his full weight behind expansion plans for Wetherby Cinema.
New owners of Wetherby Film Theatre have submitted an application to extend the venue in Caxton Street to provide a cafe-bar and to split the existing large cinema into two smaller screens, among other proposals.
Hopps says that he wants to support the plans for the future prosperity and appeal of the town but that firstly legitimate concerns of nearby residents must be properly considered.
Hopps said: “Wetherby Cinema is a vital component in a town that needs to deliver attractive reasons for people to visit. Town centres are under threat and social and entertainment opportunities are a vital element in ensuring Wetherby’s future prosperity.
“The building is not in the best of repair, has had an insecure history – as a Bingo Hall for many years – and investment and a robust business plan to enhance its chances of survival would be, in general terms, a positive and, indeed, necessary outcome.”
Hopps also said that the resubmitted plans which replaced a glass frontage with traditional arched windows was more in keeping with the original building and the conservation area and therefore a step forward.
Nevertheless, Wetherby Liberal Democrats cannot yet give unmitiagted approval to the scheme because after studying the proposal at length and assessing Objection comments, we have several caveats which we believe should receive serious examination:
1/ Size of development: “We are concerned that the height of the proposed extension could be intrusive to neighbouring properties and believe this should be examined in detail. We are also concerned that these properties retain enough space to carry our any repairs or upkeep that may be necessary. Modest adjustments may bring sizeable changes for residents.”
2/ Privacy of nearby residents: “We believe that any windows on the extension to the South and West that look over neighbouring properties should be frosted glass to ensure acceptable privacy. We also believe that it should be stipulated that any outdoor staff areas shown must not be used for clientele.”
3/ Cafe bar: “We do not object to a cafe bar to support the cinema, in principle, and believe it can play an important social function for the community without causing unacceptable levels of disruption, such as during films planned for elderly residents where their experience can be enhanced by the chance to chat and share views.
“However, we believe opening hours should be restricted in some manner either by not continuing beyond the starting time of the last film of the day, or by closure of a licensed bar to non-film goers at this point, so respecting the fact the cinema lies in a neighbourhood area.”
4/ Parking: “Wetherby Cinema should display a prominent notice within the building urging the clientele to respect local Permit Parking and showing places to park legally in the vicinity.”
Hopps concluded: “I want to see this proposal accepted, with subtle and achievable modifications, that will allow the whole community to treasure Wetherby Cinema without the lives of those nearby being affected. Answer the residents’ concerns satisfactorily and we can celebrate an optimistic future.”