YOUR article “Cinema petition is in” (October 26) requires a response. Mrs Winters’s statements regarding the St Neots Town Council decision – that ‘there was a kerfuffle and the chairman panicked, and that the issue ‘wasn’t discussed properly’ – have to be challenged.
I do not know if Mrs Winters was present at the council meeting when the recommendation for refusal of the cinema proposal was passed – if she was, she certainly didn’t voice her opinions.
I was present, however, and can categorically refute her statements. The chairman didn’t panic: he stated clearly at the start of the meeting that he would vote only in the event of a hung decision. He maintained control of the meeting throughout, and his casting vote was not required, as there was a clear majority against the motion to accept the proposed development.
This decision was taken by local councillors who know the town and obviously shared the residents’ concerns about the scheme.
I am certain that there was no ‘kerfuffle’ – whatever a kerfuffle might be. The developer’s agent was given ample opportunity to present the case for the development, and the decision of the council was taken following an open and full discussion, which hinged around numerous concerns.
These included access for emergency vehicles, traffic flows, danger to pedestrians, food smells, compliance wit the regulations surrounding the conservation area, opening hours (2.30am at weekends and over bank holidays, and midnight during the week) and lack of adequate three-dimensional information, namely an architectural model.
Such a model is vital to full understanding of the massing of the buildings in relation to the adjacent housing and their disposition across the site. Its omission speaks volumes about the developers’ own concerns regarding the contentious issues surrounding the site and their proposals for it..
Many local residents were present at the meeting and voiced these and other issues, such as the possible loss of house values, which is a major worry. A look at the number of ‘for sale’ signs in East Street at the moment will show that there is palpable concern already.
It needs to be stated that nobody at the meeting was against the concept of a cinema in St Neots. All agree that it would be a great boost to the local area, as can be seen on the campaign Facebook page: it is the proposed location that is contended.
Ii cannot help but wonder how those people in favour of the scheme would react if a cinema. Four restaurants (open until 2.30 in the morning) and parking for 140 cars had been proposed at the end of their street, overlooking their gardens, rather than a comfortable distance from where they live.
I only hope that the planning committee takes the town council’s recommendation into serious consideration when making the decision – the quality of many residents’ lives rests upon it.