at 8.20 a.m., 26 APRIL 1999
TERRY STOTT- ABINGDON COUNCIL: "There are two questions there. The reason we want a cinema is very simple. We have a town here of 30,000 people, deprived of any cinema within reasonable distance - they have to travel long ways to go to the cinema. I don't think anybody disagrees that we'd like to have a cinema in the town - the disagreement is about it's location. That leads to the second question why here? Council's view very simply is that the market for the last ten years or so has been building multiplex cinemas - that's the modern cinema experience - for that you need a large site - this is the nearest large site to where people are now beginning to live."
SM: "But this site, it's a green field site, it is an out of town development, that's contrary to everything the government is telling us about rebuilding in town centres to reduce traffic congestion?"
TS: "But we don't quite believe that. It's on the edge of town, that's undoubtedly true. It's actually very close to where people live, it's what the government is telling us what planning guidance says is that you should seek sites in the centre of town if you can and only get to the edge of town like this, if you can't find a suitable site anywhere closer to the town centre. We believe we've complied entirely with that guidance."
SM: "Isn't the truth of it the fact that you actually own this site and therefore are simply trying to make money out of it, environmental policies can go hang?"
TS: "No, that's absolutely not true. It's true that we own this site. We own a number of other sites in and around Abingdon and the Vale of the White Horse and we've kept the planning issues and the site ownership issues entirely separate."
SM: "OK, well, Gordon Garaway, you've heard the arguments there, this is the best site in Abingdon for a new multiplex cinema. The Council's obviously looked into this very carefully, what's wrong with what they're saying?"
GORDON GARRAWAY, Council for the Protection of Rural England: "Well this is just another example of the damaging, out of town developments which the CPRE survey published today has revealed. The arguments for the multiplex cinema at Abingdon go completely against government regulations and Terry Stott mentioned that this is ripe for a town of Abingdon's size of 30,000 inhabitants, but for a multiplex with 8 screens and 1900 seats - for that to be viable requires an audience drawn from a catchment area of some 200,000 people."
SM: "But surely at the same time, it's not always the case that cinemas can be built in the middle of towns. Sometimes they do have to go on the outskirts of town."
GG: "Well, in the case of Abingdon, there is a town centre site which Terry Stott knows and it was included in the local plan for a studio cinema to be built in the centre of the town. And the council for its own good reasons decided to delete that from the local plan. So there is an existing cinema building."
SM: "Well, as you can see, a hot bed of discussion here about where this new cinema should be. Terry Stott from Abingdon Council and Gordon Garaway from the CPRE, thank you both."
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