Concerns over impact of Darlington cinema development on town's heritage as detailed plans are submitted (From The Northern Echo)
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Concerns over impact of Darlington cinema development on town's heritage as detailed plans are submitted
A MULTI-million cinema development that will create hundreds of jobs has taken a step closer to reality after detailed plans were officially submitted.
Developers Terrace Hill hope the Feethams Leisure project will transform a neglected part of the town centre and bring a wider variety of leisure facilities to the town. The plans, which include a nine screen multiplex cinema, an 80 bedroom hotel and bars and restaurants, have been recommended for approval by Darlington Borough Council planning officers ahead of a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Wednesday.
The scheme is not without its detractors, with English Heritage and Darlington Association on Disability (Dad), which has concerns about disabled access, both refusing to support the application.
The detailed plans reveal the scale of the development, with the hotel expected to reach 23m (75ft) in height over six storeys overlooking the River Skerne.
The height of the development is the cause of concern for English Heritage, which fears that the building will impact on the nearby Grade 1 listed, 12th Century St Cuthbert’s Church.
An officer for English Heritage noted that the organisation supported the Feethams development in principle but added: “I am concerned about the impact upon the setting of the church.
“I do think it would be harmful to the church’s setting but the harm would be less than substantial. As the application stands, I am unable to support the application.”
The application has won the support of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Environment Agency and the council’s Highways Officer.
In recommending the application for approval, planning officers said: “It is considered that the proposed development’s overall design and scale is acceptable in the context of the existing natural and built environment.
“The development is not considered to harm the significance of heritage assets. However, were it to be considered that there was harm to St Cuthbert’s Church, the public benefits of the proposal in terms of securing the development of a major town centre site and associated jobs are considered to outweigh this harm.”
The report also concludes that there is sufficient parking in the town to accommodate customers and staff of the development and that the site is well-served by public transport.
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