MEMBERS of the public cheered and clapped Rye councillors who gave approval to a new Lion Street cinema on Monday.
There was an electric atmosphere in Rye Town Hall, with standing room only and mums bringing their children along to hear the debate.
Residents were given a chance to have their say and while some questioned the proposed design and building materials, the majority were strongly in favour.
Peter Hillier Palmer said: “Our businesses are suffering and this great facility would do a lot for them. It would be a huge loss for Rye if this were turned down. We need to drag Rye screaming and yelling into the 21st century.”
Sarah Benton said: “As a businesswoman and parent it makes perfect sense for this to go ahead.”
Sally bailey commented; “It is a creative use of the space and will engage young people.”
The main opposition to the plans seemed to come from Cllr Adam Smith who had concerns over the appearance and accessibility.
He said: “We are temporary custodians of the town’s heritage. The scenic environment and historic sites were two of the key elements identified in a visitor survey.”
But resident David Fellows countered: “91 percent of visitors in that survey also complained there was nothing to do in Rye in the evening.”
Cllr Adam Smith said: “With regard to new buildings it is imperative thy are available to all.”
But his accessibility argument did not find favour with the public or many fellow councillors.
Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore said: “I was a caretaker there when it was the FE Centre and it was enormously well utilised and busy every single day. On that basis I would say accessibility cannot be questioned.”
Cllr Mike Eve said; “One the one hand Cllr Smith says people won’t walk up the hill but then claims the church tower makes £50,000 a year from visitor footfall. To say that part of town is inaccessible is a ludicrous assumption. The top part of town is incredibly busy.
“The accessibility issue is a fallacy that Cllr Smith has come up with.”
Cllr Jo Kirkham said: “I don’t think accessibility is an issue. If people want to get up there they do.”
Councillors voted 6 - 3 to approve the plans to loud cheers and clapping from the public.
The approval was subject to the approval of the Conservation and Design Officer, Highways Authority and the Head of Environmental Health.
The Town Council does have a concern about the proposed use of vulcanised rubber and sedum roofs and their impact on the surrounding roofscape, within a particularly sensitive part of the Conservation Area.
Rother District Council’s planning committee will make the final decision when it meets on March 14.