'Nostalgia' can't save Wellington's Clifton Cinema, say councillors
“Nostalgia” and “sentiment” should not get in the way of the demolition of a disused cinema, town councillors have said, with some describing it as an “eyesore”.
The Clifton Cinema, in Wellington, closed more than 30 years ago, but was re-used as a shop until 2012.
Telford Investments Ltd is awaiting approval from Telford and Wrekin Council to knock down the 1930s art deco building, with work expected to take place next year.
Wellington Town Council Planning Committee member Lisa Jinks said the Bridge Road site “looks a mess” with the empty building.
Chairman John Alvey acknowledged that “there probably will be some voices of opposition”, but said it was important to “put sentiment to one side” and move the town forward. The committee offered no objection to the demolition.
Councillor Stephen DeLauney said a 2018 application, by an Essex-based developer, which proposed 52 homes and three commercial units while keeping the cinema facade was “the best we were ever likely to do” with the existing building, but this proposal was withdrawn the following year.
“I don’t buy into the idea that it needs to be saved, personally,” he said, adding that using the facade would put up the cost of any redevelopment and limit the site’s eventual use.
Councillor Giles Luter said: “I’m trying to look at this objectively, putting my own nostalgia for the building to one side.
“I know change can be quite difficult for people, and I would be sad to see it not in town.
"However, I think it could unlock a site that has got enormous potential for someone to invest a significant amount of money and give a new lease of life to a prime location in the town.”
Documents submitted by Telford Investments secretary Chris Evans say the site, which includes a single-storey extension along Grooms Alley, was vacated by Dunelm in 2012.
Later attempts to market the building attracted “no realistic interest”. No plans for new building on the site have yet been submitted.
Councillor John Latter said he worried how long the site would remain vacant post-demolition.
The empty, cleared and levelled plot could be an eyesore in itself, he added.
Councillor DeLauney said: “It might be useful if we can try to get something immediate out of the site.
"Maybe we could seek to include a condition which would, perhaps, allow parking on the empty site.”
But Councillor Dorothy Roberts warned that, if that happened, “everyone would get used to parking there, and there would be a huge hue and cry when it was taken away”.
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