Bowyers site planning hearing comes to an end

Bowyers site planning hearing comes to an end

The former Bowyers site in Trowbridge

Planning inspector David Nicholson

Paul Tucker QC, representing developers Prorsus

First published in Trowbridge
Last updated
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The planning appeal into the future of Trowbridge’s derelict Bowyer’s factory site came to a close this afternoon.

Developer Prorsus is looking to overturn Wiltshire Council’s decision, made in June 2012, to reject plans for an eight-screen Cineworld, a Morrisons store, six restaurants and a pub to be built on the derelict site – in a project worth £46m.

At the end of the three-day hearing, held at Trowbridge Civic Centre, planning inspector David Nicholson heard closing submissions from legal teams who represent Prorsus, Wiltshire Council and Legal & General.

The latter operates the £17m St Stephens Place Leisure Park which homes a seven-screen Odeon cinema with the council and Legal & General both arguing that a new cinema in Trowbridge would be hugely detrimental to the existing complex – which opened in November.

Robert Walton QC, representing Legal & General, said: “Odeon would be at the margins of viability here (if Cineworld opens) and the risk of closure remains real.”

Although, Paul Tucker QC, representing Prorsus, dismissed these concerns believing that both sites would give Trowbridge a major economic boost.

He also highlighted Odeon’s decision to sign up to 25-year lease at St Stephens Place, despite knowing that a potential cinema scheme was planned for the Bowyers site, as a sign that the company would be unlikely to pull out the town.

“There is not and never has been a reason to withhold consent (for approving Prorsus’ plans),” Mr Tucker said.

“The level of public support in this case has been startling.”

During the planning appeal, many residents of the town have come to the Civic Centre to offer their backing to the plans for the disused factory site with some making submissions, in favour of the cinema proposals, to the planning inspector.

When Wiltshire Council rejected plans for the Bowyers scheme, in 2012, around 400 supporters of the Bowers regeneration scheme marched through Trowbridge, from the site to County Hall, in protest at the decision.

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.

Stephen Sauvain QC, representing Wiltshire Council, told Mr Nicholson that him rejecting Prorsus’ cinema proposal would be of benefit to Trowbridge as the town would still get regeneration at the Bowyers site with an alternative leisure resource offering variety to residents.

“The appellant’s development is an edge of centre site and will withdraw custom from St Stephens Place and have an adverse affect on future investment in the town centre,” Mr Sauvain said.

“This is a positive rejection as another scheme will still go ahead and get built.”

Before this afternoon’s session, Mr Nicholson visited the Bowyers site, to get a scale of the plans proposed for the land.

The result of the inquiry is expected in a few weeks' time.

Comments (12)

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6:25pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Hilperton Man says...

Start building whatever and get rid of this eyesore.
Start building whatever and get rid of this eyesore. Hilperton Man
  • Score: 4

9:55am Fri 10 Jan 14

New 2 Trow says...

Someone buy land next to Hilperton Man's house and just build 'whatever'. See if he cares then what should get built!
Someone buy land next to Hilperton Man's house and just build 'whatever'. See if he cares then what should get built! New 2 Trow
  • Score: -2

4:36pm Fri 10 Jan 14

brandx says...

When will the Council sort out the Peter Black site?
When will the Council sort out the Peter Black site? brandx
  • Score: 13

4:14pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Hilperton Man says...

New 2 Trow wrote:
Someone buy land next to Hilperton Man's house and just build 'whatever'. See if he cares then what should get built!
We have the road going through the Gap, if it makes things better for the village then be it.
[quote][p][bold]New 2 Trow[/bold] wrote: Someone buy land next to Hilperton Man's house and just build 'whatever'. See if he cares then what should get built![/p][/quote]We have the road going through the Gap, if it makes things better for the village then be it. Hilperton Man
  • Score: 4

4:43pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Hilperton Man says...

New 2 Trow wrote:
Someone buy land next to Hilperton Man's house and just build 'whatever'. See if he cares then what should get built!
If you are new to the town then you dont understand how long things take to get done.
[quote][p][bold]New 2 Trow[/bold] wrote: Someone buy land next to Hilperton Man's house and just build 'whatever'. See if he cares then what should get built![/p][/quote]If you are new to the town then you dont understand how long things take to get done. Hilperton Man
  • Score: 4

5:09pm Wed 15 Jan 14

brandx says...

But the Odeon was built in record time and I have been there ten times already.

Saw great film, "American Hustle" last night, noted that Prezzos and Nandos were doing well. Do people really think they will be enough trade for 15 screens and ten eateries?
But the Odeon was built in record time and I have been there ten times already. Saw great film, "American Hustle" last night, noted that Prezzos and Nandos were doing well. Do people really think they will be enough trade for 15 screens and ten eateries? brandx
  • Score: 2

5:16pm Wed 15 Jan 14

BathBadger says...

There seems to be enough trade for more than one coffee shop, supermarket, garage, Mobile phone shop, fast food outlet, estate agent etc, doesn't there?
There seems to be enough trade for more than one coffee shop, supermarket, garage, Mobile phone shop, fast food outlet, estate agent etc, doesn't there? BathBadger
  • Score: 2

1:17pm Thu 16 Jan 14

techniquest says...

How about 10-pin bowling, or an ice skating rink. Bring some more money INTO the town rather than out - there's plenty of waste space for both projects, and (in the case of ice skating), actually do something with the 'Olympic legacy' rather than just empty rhetoric.
How about 10-pin bowling, or an ice skating rink. Bring some more money INTO the town rather than out - there's plenty of waste space for both projects, and (in the case of ice skating), actually do something with the 'Olympic legacy' rather than just empty rhetoric. techniquest
  • Score: 1

4:09pm Thu 16 Jan 14

AMVanquish007 says...

Clearly techniquest you don't know about planning or the sites concerned.
Firstly both of these sites had their plans submitted well before the Olympic Games.
Secondly, where on earth is the 'waste space'on the St Stephens Place to build either a 10 pin bowling plex let alone an ice rink. Do you know how voluminous these buildings would be?
Even an economically viable 18 lane bowling plex which is the average build nationally would take up land half the size of SSP
As for Innox Riverside the only difference between the 2nd application submitted and the main appeal application is one unit - that being the cinema reinstatement rather than a retail unit.
There simply isn't the space left as car parking is vital to cover the existing business that will be on there.
The Peter Blacks site because of its main sewer and ground piling that would have to be undertaken to reinforce the river bank it would seem only lends itself to the potential of extra car parking from flattening the site.
As mentioned in previous blogs - 10 pin bowling tends to be built on the same development with an anchored cinema complex.
That said I have mentioned to developers the potential of purchasing the old Harris Motors site which does have some width and length to possibly accommodate a small bowling alley with maybe a bingo hall- and who knows if the builders were brave site a seasonal festive ice rink on a strengthened flat roof like they do at the National History Museum and at Somerset House in London. Then, apart from a repertory theatre venue like the one at Frome, Trowbridge really would have it all. Just have to see if after the Cineworld gets approved whether the will is there.
Clearly techniquest you don't know about planning or the sites concerned. Firstly both of these sites had their plans submitted well before the Olympic Games. Secondly, where on earth is the 'waste space'on the St Stephens Place to build either a 10 pin bowling plex let alone an ice rink. Do you know how voluminous these buildings would be? Even an economically viable 18 lane bowling plex which is the average build nationally would take up land half the size of SSP As for Innox Riverside the only difference between the 2nd application submitted and the main appeal application is one unit - that being the cinema reinstatement rather than a retail unit. There simply isn't the space left as car parking is vital to cover the existing business that will be on there. The Peter Blacks site because of its main sewer and ground piling that would have to be undertaken to reinforce the river bank it would seem only lends itself to the potential of extra car parking from flattening the site. As mentioned in previous blogs - 10 pin bowling tends to be built on the same development with an anchored cinema complex. That said I have mentioned to developers the potential of purchasing the old Harris Motors site which does have some width and length to possibly accommodate a small bowling alley with maybe a bingo hall- and who knows if the builders were brave site a seasonal festive ice rink on a strengthened flat roof like they do at the National History Museum and at Somerset House in London. Then, apart from a repertory theatre venue like the one at Frome, Trowbridge really would have it all. Just have to see if after the Cineworld gets approved whether the will is there. AMVanquish007
  • Score: 0

4:25pm Thu 16 Jan 14

AMVanquish007 says...

I have of course assumed that the waste space could ultimately mean other sites in Trowbridge too but as these seem to be allocated for extra housing or the Sports hub and/or Campus there hardly seems much space left.
A converted empty warehouse on the canal road or white horse park would appear to be an alternative but as proximity is very important when it comes to leisure being combined , the choices are limited with what is left for developing in the centre
I have of course assumed that the waste space could ultimately mean other sites in Trowbridge too but as these seem to be allocated for extra housing or the Sports hub and/or Campus there hardly seems much space left. A converted empty warehouse on the canal road or white horse park would appear to be an alternative but as proximity is very important when it comes to leisure being combined , the choices are limited with what is left for developing in the centre AMVanquish007
  • Score: -1

9:44pm Fri 17 Jan 14

PCS_Wilts says...

AMVanquish007 wrote:
Clearly techniquest you don't know about planning or the sites concerned.
Firstly both of these sites had their plans submitted well before the Olympic Games.
Secondly, where on earth is the 'waste space'on the St Stephens Place to build either a 10 pin bowling plex let alone an ice rink. Do you know how voluminous these buildings would be?
Even an economically viable 18 lane bowling plex which is the average build nationally would take up land half the size of SSP
As for Innox Riverside the only difference between the 2nd application submitted and the main appeal application is one unit - that being the cinema reinstatement rather than a retail unit.
There simply isn't the space left as car parking is vital to cover the existing business that will be on there.
The Peter Blacks site because of its main sewer and ground piling that would have to be undertaken to reinforce the river bank it would seem only lends itself to the potential of extra car parking from flattening the site.
As mentioned in previous blogs - 10 pin bowling tends to be built on the same development with an anchored cinema complex.
That said I have mentioned to developers the potential of purchasing the old Harris Motors site which does have some width and length to possibly accommodate a small bowling alley with maybe a bingo hall- and who knows if the builders were brave site a seasonal festive ice rink on a strengthened flat roof like they do at the National History Museum and at Somerset House in London. Then, apart from a repertory theatre venue like the one at Frome, Trowbridge really would have it all. Just have to see if after the Cineworld gets approved whether the will is there.
There is another difference on the application that succeeded - it included a petrol station - the plans being appealed - I would imagine the majority would rather see a Morrisons Petrol station than a second cinema.

Talking of which even the "expert" called in by Prorsus stated both cinemas could exist "likely breaking even with a potential for profit" - That just says it all doesn't it - sustainability is iffy even by the regard of an expert.

Also - if the cinema doesn't pay rent to the landlord how is he going to make money because its obvious to everyone that Trowbridge will not sustain another 6 restaurants. Who will fill those units? In the next couple of months major brands will have filled the units at St Stephens place leaving further restaurant business potential looking very slim for any other development.
[quote][p][bold]AMVanquish007[/bold] wrote: Clearly techniquest you don't know about planning or the sites concerned. Firstly both of these sites had their plans submitted well before the Olympic Games. Secondly, where on earth is the 'waste space'on the St Stephens Place to build either a 10 pin bowling plex let alone an ice rink. Do you know how voluminous these buildings would be? Even an economically viable 18 lane bowling plex which is the average build nationally would take up land half the size of SSP As for Innox Riverside the only difference between the 2nd application submitted and the main appeal application is one unit - that being the cinema reinstatement rather than a retail unit. There simply isn't the space left as car parking is vital to cover the existing business that will be on there. The Peter Blacks site because of its main sewer and ground piling that would have to be undertaken to reinforce the river bank it would seem only lends itself to the potential of extra car parking from flattening the site. As mentioned in previous blogs - 10 pin bowling tends to be built on the same development with an anchored cinema complex. That said I have mentioned to developers the potential of purchasing the old Harris Motors site which does have some width and length to possibly accommodate a small bowling alley with maybe a bingo hall- and who knows if the builders were brave site a seasonal festive ice rink on a strengthened flat roof like they do at the National History Museum and at Somerset House in London. Then, apart from a repertory theatre venue like the one at Frome, Trowbridge really would have it all. Just have to see if after the Cineworld gets approved whether the will is there.[/p][/quote]There is another difference on the application that succeeded - it included a petrol station - the plans being appealed - I would imagine the majority would rather see a Morrisons Petrol station than a second cinema. Talking of which even the "expert" called in by Prorsus stated both cinemas could exist "likely breaking even with a potential for profit" - That just says it all doesn't it - sustainability is iffy even by the regard of an expert. Also - if the cinema doesn't pay rent to the landlord how is he going to make money because its obvious to everyone that Trowbridge will not sustain another 6 restaurants. Who will fill those units? In the next couple of months major brands will have filled the units at St Stephens place leaving further restaurant business potential looking very slim for any other development. PCS_Wilts
  • Score: 1

10:06am Tue 21 Jan 14

AMVanquish007 says...

PCS-the petrol station was discussed at the appeal and might be transferred over to the main application from the 2nd.Either way its highly likey that the development is going to get a petrol station regardless even if it means a smaller application to transfer it to the main one.
You obviously were not there at the appeal but let me enlighten you.
John Sullivan used a well used industry business model to determine the potential for the 2 cinemas and said that although the population is spread wider, taking into account the road system,population and success of the current Odeon it was concluded that the area is still underscreened by 4 screens.
I can work out by looking at the Odeon booking website and getting to the seating plans just how many seats have been sold. And since October 25th there have been a considerable number of sellout shows for popular films.
Secondly on average 3 films are released a week and in some instances much to the annoyance of the general public, Trowbridge has not got some of these films until later and thats because it is a 7 plex.
Films have to be cut down before their time with reduced shows to get some of these films in.
I have to say that currrently the cinema appears to be operating a very bizarre performance schedule. Whether certain screens are still leaking from the current rain and need screen swaps is unclear -either way most multiplexes operate 4 shows a day but this cinema appears to be running 3 shows only=-its last performances being around 830-very strange.
The thing is ,as there was the prospect of another multiplex operator coming in who stated in the Wiltshire Times 2 years back that they would build regardless of Odeon,-why did Odeon then agree to signing a 25 year lease which states clearly that their cinema cannot be shut. Both chains have done their homework but it appears now that the potential catchment embraces 571000 population.
As a 7 screen 1200 seater requires a figure of 100000 to survive profitably. It looks to me, as i have said all along. that there is plenty of catchment for both to survive.
I think that you will find that all Cineworld cinemas make a profit and they have it built into their business model to be able to pay the rent.
As for the units and restaurants-the restaurant operators are still on board especially Prezzo and F and Bs, so maybe Chimichanga/Ultimate burger and for the other Garfunkels/Coast to Coast might be on offer to Innox.
It was touched upon at the appeal but im sure Angus will impart everything in due course. My guess is that other restaurant chains, of which there are quite a few, PCS, are in the wings and are awaiting the outcome of the appeal to determine where to go. Either way i think we can be assured of some variety in the years to come.
PCS-the petrol station was discussed at the appeal and might be transferred over to the main application from the 2nd.Either way its highly likey that the development is going to get a petrol station regardless even if it means a smaller application to transfer it to the main one. You obviously were not there at the appeal but let me enlighten you. John Sullivan used a well used industry business model to determine the potential for the 2 cinemas and said that although the population is spread wider, taking into account the road system,population and success of the current Odeon it was concluded that the area is still underscreened by 4 screens. I can work out by looking at the Odeon booking website and getting to the seating plans just how many seats have been sold. And since October 25th there have been a considerable number of sellout shows for popular films. Secondly on average 3 films are released a week and in some instances much to the annoyance of the general public, Trowbridge has not got some of these films until later and thats because it is a 7 plex. Films have to be cut down before their time with reduced shows to get some of these films in. I have to say that currrently the cinema appears to be operating a very bizarre performance schedule. Whether certain screens are still leaking from the current rain and need screen swaps is unclear -either way most multiplexes operate 4 shows a day but this cinema appears to be running 3 shows only=-its last performances being around 830-very strange. The thing is ,as there was the prospect of another multiplex operator coming in who stated in the Wiltshire Times 2 years back that they would build regardless of Odeon,-why did Odeon then agree to signing a 25 year lease which states clearly that their cinema cannot be shut. Both chains have done their homework but it appears now that the potential catchment embraces 571000 population. As a 7 screen 1200 seater requires a figure of 100000 to survive profitably. It looks to me, as i have said all along. that there is plenty of catchment for both to survive. I think that you will find that all Cineworld cinemas make a profit and they have it built into their business model to be able to pay the rent. As for the units and restaurants-the restaurant operators are still on board especially Prezzo and F and Bs, so maybe Chimichanga/Ultimate burger and for the other Garfunkels/Coast to Coast might be on offer to Innox. It was touched upon at the appeal but im sure Angus will impart everything in due course. My guess is that other restaurant chains, of which there are quite a few, PCS, are in the wings and are awaiting the outcome of the appeal to determine where to go. Either way i think we can be assured of some variety in the years to come. AMVanquish007
  • Score: 1

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