Developer Prorsus has thanked Trowbridge residents for supporting its battle to get a new cinema built on the former Bowyers factory site.
The Planning Inspectorate has today overturned Wiltshire Council’s decision, in June 2012, to reject the developer’s proposals to regenerate the derelict land.
An eight-screen Cineworld, a Morrisons store, six restaurants and a pub will be built at Bowyers as part of the £46m scheme known as Innox Riverside.
Angus Horner, Prorsus managing director, said: “I’m feeling very relieved and delighted. This is a wonderful project and seeing the massive commitment of so many people in Trowbridge, who were behind it from the start, has just been fantastic.”
When Wiltshire Council rejected plans for the Bowyers scheme, in 2012, around 400 supporters of the Bowyers regeneration marched through Trowbridge, from the site to County Hall, in protest at the decision.
A Facebook group in support for Prorsus’ plans was also set up and members of the public also stood up and gave their backing to the proposals during a three-day planning appeal which took place at Trowbridge Civic Centre earlier this month.
Mr Horner said: “I do my job with enthusiasm and passion and I massively care about this project but it’s the people of Trowbridge who deserve the pat on the back and should be pictured on the front page as their commitment has been unbelievable.
“It has been a great joy getting to know everyone in the town and we need more people like them in this country who want to make a difference. Fed up with what they have had for the last 20 years they’ve stood up and without their support this might not have happened.”
In February 2013, Prorsus saw plans for a ‘reserve’ application – which substituted the cinema for an unspecified leisure facility and added a petrol station – accepted by Wiltshire Council.
As part of this permission, the developer had already started working on the Bowyers site and Mr Horner said demolition of the former factory could start within weeks.
“We had started work as part of the reserve application and we’ll be doing all we can to get Innox Riverside up and running as fast as we can,” he said.
“It is disappointing that it has taken so long to get to this stage but that is a sad reality of this process and in this country we need to deliver these types of big leisure facilities faster and there should be more clarity on the issue. As we’ll never get back that year and a half we have lost in building the site and supporting the people of Trowbridge and its economy but now we must move forward.”
During the planning appeal, overseen by inspector David Nicholson, Wiltshire Council and Legal & General, which opened the £17m St Stephens Place Leisure Park in November, made submissions against Prorsus’ plans.
Both believe that the Bowyers development will have a detrimental effect on the seven-screen Odeon cinema, which opened in October at St Stephens Place, potentially forcing it to close.