CLLR RICHARD DAWS, of the South Devon Alliance, writes:

Kirk Field’s letter (date) sums up the position of regeneration in Newton Abbot perfectly. There is a battle underway for the soul of Newton Abbot, and in turn, Teignbridge. 

The retail sector is in distress. Hospitality on its knees. The cinema industry is in crisis. Scott’s Cinemas has sensibly withdrawn their interest in the ‘shipping container’ four screen concept proposed as part of the Future High Street Fund project. 

At best this concept can be described as an ambitious development created pre-covid without any input from the cultural groups in the district. 

Despite Scott’s withdrawal and the alarm bells ringing in a sector that is seeing large and small operators filing for bankruptcy, TDC appear to be proceeding with their aim to obtain planning permission for the obscene oversized multi-screen cinema proposal. 

This is an application that both overwhelms Market Square and towers over the Alexandra Theatre, putting the Grade 2 listed theatre in the shade both metaphorically and literally.  

The cinema application by TDC, to be determined by TDC, breaches so many planning policies it would have been laughed out if any other developer had brought the application forward. 

Should the council be so reckless as to grant planning  permission, they seem to think they can buck the trend with still only the vague potential of working with a new to the table cinema operator Arc, a business that appears to be based in Ireland. 

Most companies trading in the UK but based in Ireland do so to avoid paying tax in the UK. 

Despite reassurances during the election period, nobody in the new Lib Dem executive has talked to any of the local cultural or community groups, or elected Cllrs, about how they can evolve their plans to better suit the town and district in a very changed post-covid world. It really didn’t have to be like this.