[T]he Royalty Cinema in Bowness is likely to be deemed a ‘cultural asset’ thanks to moves by Liberal Democrat councillors on South Lakeland District Council.
Councillors are expected to confirm next week that they would like the National Park Authority to include wording in their local plan which would stop the building being used for anything other than a cinema for the next 15 years, following concerns raised by local residents.
The wording will also clarify the council’s intentions on the site around the cinema which includes waste land and the Quarry Rigg car park.
The requested wording says the National Park plan should “include a requirement for retention of the cinema in a way which meets local community and visitor expectations,” and that any work to improve the cinema or work on the rest of the site includes a “a requirement that the cinema be retained as a community and cultural asset.’’
This formal response confirms a previous commitment from Liberal Democrat portfolio holder for Culture, Chris Hogg, that there was no threat to the Royalty itself from the inclusion of the wider site in the local plan.
Chris said: “We said several weeks ago that including this site in these discussions did not mean there were any plans or proposals for the Royalty, and we said we had absolutely no intention of losing the Royalty as a cinema.
“It is a vital cultural and historical asset for the district which forms an important part of the Bowness Conservation area. It is highly valued by locals and visitors alike and provides excellent entertainment and leisure in this key tourist location.
“Our response to the LDNPA, which will go to Cabinet next week for approval, puts that commitment in black and white. We are asking the LDNPA to put a condition on that site that clearly states the cinema is retained.’’
Windermere Councillor Ben Berry disagreed with the stance saying that the only way to keep the cinema safe from development was to remove it from the development plan. He spoke saying: “This much loved Cinema can’t be safe from development whilst allocated for development in the plan. The Council can spin all it likes but the only way to keep the site safe is to remove it as a site for development.”Councillor Berry has a petition asking
South Lakeland District Council to withdraw the site as a devlopment. The petition can be found here: https://www.westmorlandconservatives.org.uk/form/don-t-let-the-credits-roll-on-th