A HIGH Court challenge has been launched against Cotswold District Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a new cinema and entertainment complex in Cirencester’s Brewery Court.
Last November members of CDC’s planning committee overturned a recommendation to refuse the building of the entertainment complex, which includes a four screen cinema, six shops, four restaurants and a 110-bed hall of residence.
Cirencester Estates Limited, which owns a number of commercial properties in the town centre, has applied for a judicial review into the council’s decision to grant planning permission to Wildmoor Properties for the development.
The London-based firm called in its solicitors after discovering that Wildmoor’s plans would have a direct impact on one of its properties.
Michael Lockhart-Smith, development director at Cirencester Estates Limited, said: “Unbeknown to us, and without being consulted, the proposed Wildmoor scheme involved the extension of the WHSmith unit and requires the demolition of the rear wall of 19-21 Castle Street.”
While the company said the development has “merits for the future prosperity and viability of the town centre”, it echoed the concerns raised by English Heritage last year.
In a letter to CDC planning officer Mike Napper, English Heritage said that if a cinema is to be built in Cirencester it must be of a good design that reflects the town’s character.
It read: “In our opinion, the provision of a cinema can be achieved within these parameters, but this scheme fails to do so.”
When the application went before the committee last year, CDC had received 28 objecting letters and 43 letters of support.
Cotswold District Council has since told the Standard that it will not be defending the challenge as it had learnt that Wildmoor was preparing to submit a modified application in light of a proposal to convert the Niccol Centre into a youth hostel.
Plans for the 49-bed Arts Youth Hostel, which would be the first of its kind in the country, were submitted by New Brewery Arts in February.
Wildmoor’s original plans involved reconfiguring the first floor of the Niccol Centre into a new multi-purpose arts facility complete with an adjoining sculpture terrace.
A spokesman for Wildmoor said: “The revised plans, which are set to be submitted for planning permission on Wednesday, April 2, will create a courtyard space in front of the Niccol Building.
“Wildmoor remains committed to delivering the Brewery Court scheme as quickly as possible and providing the town centre with the much needed boost that it will inevitably bring.”