Town Square revamp given thumbs up by officials

By Steve Hayes 27/01 Updated: 09/02 09:37

Buy photos » An artist's impression of the latest scheme (s)

OFFICIALS have recommended the controversial Town Square development is given the green light.

In a report to Stratford District Council's planning committee released today (Friday) the council's planning officer said the benefits of the scheme outweighed the negatives.

And they urged committee members to give the £10 million plans, put forward by developer London and Regional Properties, the go-ahead when they meet to decide their fate on February 8.

The plans, which include a new five-screen cinema, were revised by the developer after criticism from local residents, conservation groups and businesses about their scale and impact on the area.

But at a recent consultation meeting at Stratford town hall there was still opposition to the plans.

And the manager of Stratford Picturehouse, Carina Volkes, this week went on record to express her concerns about its future should they get the go ahead.

Some 73 letters of objection have been received by the committee ahead of the meeting - which include representations from Stratford Society and Stratford Voice.

The main cause for concern is that the development would cause an eyesore in the town centre.

But London and Regional's Geoff Springer insists the latest plans comply with the council's policies and have attracted significant interest from businesses.

He said the company had demonstrated a commitment to the scheme he hoped members would share.

And subject to a number of conditions - including that £55,000 should be given by the developer towards the pedestrianisation of High Street to the Historic Spine project and money should be given towards CCTV coverage - the planning officer said the scheme should go ahead.

In their report before the committee they concluded:

"I find there are negative impacts of the scheme, particularly in relation to the scale of the proposed cinema building and its impacts on the conservation area and the setting of listed buildings when viewed from some mid-distance views and from the RST Tower.

"I also find that there are benefits in seeking to upgrade and re-kindle an important part of the town’s commercial fabric that is negatively viewed and under-used.

"I do consider the likely resultant benefits from revitalising the site marginally outweigh adverse impacts on the character and appearance of the conservation area, townscape and setting of listed buildings all of which would be prone to adverse impacts if the site remains as an under utilised and poorly used part of the town."

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