As new plans for the next steps at Northgate, Bridgwater for the development of a new cinema and leisure scheme on council-owned land Sedgemoor Labour councillors combined support for the much-needed facility along with raising concerns for environmental considerations. Sedgmoor District Council consider that the Northgate scheme will be an important addition to the town centre, creating vitality, vibrancy and a key leisure activities for the growing town. The scheme will comprise a 7-screen state of the art cinema operated by WTW-Scott Cinemas Ltd that will replace the existing Scott cinema nearby. Alongside the cinema, four restaurants and bars will also be built and negotiations with potential operators are currently well advanced and tenants should be announced by the end of the year. Above the restaurants, a multi-use unit will be available, that has potential for a number of different uses. However, as the project unravelled Labour Councillors were quick to point out possible missed opportunities .
Cllr Hilary Bruce (Labour, Fairfax) asked “Would Sedgemoor be incorporating measures to address the climate emergency such as ground source heat pumps, grey water recycling,, waste water heat recovery, electric car charging points, solar panels, and water fountains. This project has the potential to be a flagship development and we must not miss this opportunity.”
Portfolio Holder Cllr Mark Healey (Con, Woolavington) said “ A further report to Full Council will be prepared before the end of 2019 for authority to commit full development funding. It is anticipated that work on site could begin as early as June 2020 and opening in autumn 2021.The final piece of the jigsaw will be enhancements and extension of Brewery Field and a consultation will take place during October 2019 to gather the thoughts of local people following which a separate planning application will be submitted “
‘Show we are serious about climate change’
Sedgemoor Labour Leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Lab,Westover) said “Labour has kept a close eye on this project from conception and we support it because it passes the tests we set – it is leisure led, it doesn’t harm the town centre, it complements it and it includes the retention and enhancement of the Brewery Field. But we mustn’t lose the chance now to show that we are serious about climate change. We have said there’s a climate emergency and we will take measures to deal with that so we really must do that and not just pay lip service. We don’t want to hear about ‘future proofing’ because that doesn’t work with climate change. It’s not for future generations to solve it’s the decisions we take here and now.”
Cllr Bruce asked if the project could be reviewed by the Corporate Scrutiny committee which is chaired by Cllr Smedley. The Labour leader replied that this had to be one of the routes available along with a genuine public consultation that started right away through the planning process and also through such other bodies as the Town Development Forum. Cllr Smedley also said he had concerns at the loss of the coach parking spaces within the Northgate site and said that these needed to be relocated not lost.