Community groups' fears over cinema plan for King's Lynn Corn Exchange
Two Lynn community groups have called for a re-think of plans for cinema screens at the town’s Corn Exchange, warning they may not be viable.
Three separate applications are due to be considered by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee next week, after members backed the principal of the idea earlier this month.
But, with costs already up to around £1.6 million, both the Lynn Civic Society and the St Margaret’s with St Nicholas ward forum have voiced concerns.
Although neither has formally objected to the plans which will be considered on Monday, both are worried that the plan may end up hitting ratepayers in the pocket.
In a letter, Helen Russell Johnston, of the Civic Society, wrote: “If Lynn was lacking a cinema, then we would think it an excellent plan for the borough council to subsidise the creation of a new cinema facility.
“But Lynn does have a three-screen cinema and also a well-attended community cinema club. Both these operations are of course vying with the relentless rise of Netflix and other on-line distribution.
“Our concern is that the council appear to be proposing this development as a revenue generating venture.
“Whilst Civic Society members will no-doubt do their utmost to support the facility if it opens, we are extremely dubious about whether it will be capable of breaking even, let alone creating revenue.
“We realise that viability is not strictly a planning matter – but given the current investigation into KLIC – we feel that officers and councillors need to revisit and carefully scrutinise their business planning for this proposal.”
Ward forum chairman Julian Litten added: “We also question whether the income from film will be as extensive as the proposal suggests, will justify the proposed expenditure and show a return that will – eventually – fully return taxpayers’ money.”
But planning officers said: “This proposal will provide a new but complementary use within the building delivering public benefit and ensuring its ongoing viability, but with only limited impact upon its historic significance.”
The three applications which will go before the planning committee on Monday are for planning and listed building consent to allow alterations to the building to take place, plus permission for additional advertising. All three are recommended for approval.