New St Albans cinema plan is now showing

PUBLISHED: 16:01 05 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

Tim Blairs of Atringham Verulamium with a model of the proposed scheme - which could now include a cinema

Tim Blairs of Atringham Verulamium with a model of the proposed scheme - which could now include a cinema

FILM buffs have been handed some hope in the wake of the decision to end the contract between St Albans District Council and Henry Davidson Developments to build a new cinema. The termination of the contract means the end of any plans to build a cinema, f

FILM buffs have been handed some hope in the wake of the decision to end the contract between St Albans District Council and Henry Davidson Developments to build a new cinema.

The termination of the contract means the end of any plans to build a cinema, flats and restaurants on the civic centre car park site in Bricket Road.

But St Albans planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, admitted this week that he is talking to Antringham Verulamium, the company which is planning to develop the adjoining Hertfordshire House site in Bricket Road.

And council leader, Robert Donald, told a meeting of cabinet on Tuesday that they were looking at, "other shorter-term possibilities" to have some form of cinema facility in the district.

The Hertfordshire House development is currently intended to include an 87-room Travelodge Hotel, 12,600 square feet of office space and 46 residential units as well as leisure and retail outlets.

The site also includes St Albans police station and Cllr Brazier said he had also been talking to both the developers who are interested in that building about putting a cinema there. He said: "These are strong possibilities."

Henry Davidson had drawn up two schemes for the Bricket Road site which combined a cinema with restaurants and flats. Both were withdrawn before going before a planning committee because of concerns about the size and scale of the buildings which were variously dubbed the Twin Towers and Nightmare on Bricket Road.

The company was required to comply with certain requirements by this week, one of which was to obtain planning permission for a third scheme.

It admitted it could see no likelihood of achieving that in the current economic climate and the contract has been terminated by mutual agreement.

Cllr Brazier said that Henry Davidson had spent a huge amount of money on the schemes but there was no animosity between the two parties. He added: "I think the site was part of the problem and also the perception of the design of the building.

"The public and members of the council could not live with a high building which dominated the skyline. An iconic building would have worked but they couldn't financially stack it up."

But he is confident that St Albans will get it cinema as part of the economic regeneration of the city's economy to bring in more tourists.

Marion Hammant of St Albans Civic Society, which strongly opposed the Davidson schemes, said they were surprised that it had taken so long for the contract to be terminated.

She added: "It was the wrong design and wrong sort of cinema. Yes we want a cinema but we don't want six little boxes under a lot of flats. We always questioned the desire for a multiplex."

She added: "We are still interested in seeing a cinema for everyone in St Albans but it will have to have an imaginative and appropriate design.

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