AN ‘inspirational’ alternative to Teignbridge Council’s plans for a new cinema for Newton Abbot has been released by the Alexandra Theatre Newton Abbot Community Benefit Society.

Drawings released by the society illustrate their alternative vision for a multi-screen cinema on the proposed site alongside the Market Square.

This design, prepared by local architect Jeremy Newcombe, who also produced the plans for the restored Alexandra Theatre and Cultural Hub, show a smaller scheme for a three-screen cinema and a single large retail unit in place of the Teignbridge Council proposal for a four- screen cinema over two large retail units.

The council’s application for planning and listed building consent is due to be determined by the Teignbridge Planning Committee on December 14.

Cllr Richard Daws outlined the plans and told the Mid-Devon Advertiser: ‘The designs are pretty inspiring.

‘The best element for me, other than that they do not tower over the Alex and literally put the listed building in the shade, is the fact that they are set back from the Alex the construction at that end is reflective, so the new smaller scale cinema actually reflects and highlights the historic grade 2 listed building.

‘The smaller scale also makes the potential of commercial viability easier to reach.

‘A three screen cinema working in harmony with a fully functioning historic theatre and cultural community hub could be something really transformational.

A spokesperson added: ‘The CBS are hoping that public support for their alternative, more sensitive design, will encourage the Planning Committee not to accept the Council’s oversized and inappropriate scheme which overshadows the grade II listed Alexandra Theatre and Market Hall. ‘

By means of a superimposed outline of the proposed four-screen cinema, the new drawings show how a three-screen cinema can achieve the all-important reduction in the mass of the building closest to the Grade II listed Alexandra and Market Hall.

‘This significantly reduces the negative effect of the cinema building on the setting of the listed buildings, acknowledged by the Council in its applications as being key issue. The Council’s scheme breaches their own planning policies and damages the heritage and character of the Alexandra Theatre and Market Hall which are two of the most iconic buildings in the town.

‘The CBS drawings for a three-screen cinema also show how this facility need not be a massive ‘carbuncle’ dominating the Market Square, and how the single retail unit within the cinema building can be blended in with the existing units in Market Walk.’

Cllr Daws said other major advantages include:

► A smaller cinema building, positioned further away from the Alexandra, allows sufficient space for an important atrium extension to be built onto the Theatre, enabling the plans for the town’s Cultural Hub to be realised.

► A wider pedestrian route between the cinema and theatre, connecting Market Street with the Market Square, rather than the narrow and overhung corridor in the Council’s current plans. The curved cladding facing the listed theatre is envisaged as mirror glass reflecting the rich architecture of the adjacent historic building.

► A large video screen over the cinema entrance will provide the option of showing public events and other entertainment for gatherings in the square. The Council’s current plans just show a large window.

► A canopy around the cinema building will provide a covered walkway linking Market Walk with the Alexandra Theatre and Market Street.

‘The three-screen cinema would accommodate 572 seats compared with the 651 in the council’s four-screen scheme.

‘Teignbridge’s consultants advised that the four-screen cinema would be viable if it achieved 15% occupancy.

‘The three-screen cinema would be less expensive to build and would be equally capable of showing the all-important blockbuster films.’

What would be lost would be the smallest fourth screen showing the least popular films, as well as one retail unit, for which there is likely to be little if any demand.’