Bowyers development refused
By Trevor Carbin
On May 9th members of Wiltshire Council western area planning committee deferred the scheme for a cinema, supermarket, restaurants and pub on the Bowyers site in Trowbridge, asking planning officers to come up with details of the conditions and legal agreements which would be required if the scheme were to be approved. The application returned to the committee on June 20th with details of all the conditions (43 of them) and legal agreements, though still with a recommendation from the planners for refusal.
If committee members had decided in favour of the scheme it would have had to be referred to the government.
Applicants Prorsus explained that they wanted to build an 8-screen Cineworld cinema, a Morrison's foodstore, six 'family restaurants', a pub, coffee shops and over 500 parking spaces. There would be a riverside walk and a 'civic square'. They said the project was fully funded and could be built out by Christmas 2013.
The committee heard from WC cabinet member for economic development Fleur de Rhe Phillipe, who asked councillors to refuse the plans, promising that the council would then be able to negotiate with the developers to produce a better and more acceptable scheme.
Town centre traders including Jonathan Knee warned the committee that approval of the supermarket could threaten the future of Asda, The Shires and Knee's department store as well as other town centre shops, whilst committee members pointed out that the effect of permitting two cinemas could mean both providers dropping out and the town remaining without a cinema.
Speakers supporting the concept said it had firm public backing, and rather than the destructive scenario threatened by planning experts and retail consultants Innox Riverside would be a great asset to the town.
The refusal was for three reasons: the scheme doesn't fit in with the overall plan for the town centre; it would cause highway problems; and the relationship to the railway station was unsatisfactory. In a recorded vote seven councillors supported the refusal, three were against, and the chairman abstained.
For details of the scheme see www.innoxriverside.com