COUNCILLORS in Ramsey have unanimously rubbished plans to replace the town s 70-year-old Grand Cinema in the Great Whyte with flats and a new library. The Mayor, Councillor Ian Walker, said the town council was appalled by the proposal put forward by soci
COUNCILLORS in Ramsey have unanimously rubbished plans to replace the town's 70-year-old Grand Cinema in the Great Whyte with flats and a new library.
The Mayor, Councillor Ian Walker, said the town council was appalled by the proposal put forward by social landlord, the Luminus Group, which includes Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership.
He said it was "totally out of character with the surrounding buildings on what is probably the most important site in our Fenland market town".
He said that, in its recent character assessment of the Ramsey conservation area, Huntingdonshire District Council - the planning authority - had said that "with imagination and commitment, the Great Whyte could be helped to meet its full potential, as it is undoubtedly one of the best urban spaces in Huntingdonshire".
Cllr Walker said: "It beggars belief that they could let such a proposal be put forward for consideration.
"In addition to the inappropriate design, the council is also extremely concerned at the loss of 22 parking spaces on New Road without providing suitable replacements in the town centre.
"At present, parking provision within the town is barely adequate at peak times, and attempts to regenerate the town centre will fail unless adequate parking provision is made," he added.
"If, as seems inevitable, Ramsey is to lose the Grand Cinema, it is essential that it should be replaced by a building Ramsey can be proud of and that provides, in some part, a replacement for the valuable community facility the cinema provided.
"This is not a grand design but a gross design."
Luminus said it saw the redevelopment of the Ramsey Grand site as a "unique opportunity to assist with the regeneration of the town centre."
It added: "Our proposed design is symbolic of this, since it takes visual cues from the Great Whyte and surrounding buildings, whilst promoting a bold vision for Ramsey as a vibrant market town.
"After extensive consultation with the planning department of HDC, we have arrived at a design that best meets the many competing demands on this important site. In addition to providing much-needed housing for the people of Ramsey, we also hope to provide, in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, a state-of-the-art library, a base for the youth service and a centre for learning.
"Our design accommodates enough parking spaces for the new housing. Whilst it has not been possible to provide additional parking, we hope the people of Ramsey will consider the much wider benefits of our proposed design to the community."
HDC said it would determine the application in due course.