A SCHEME for a new arthouse cinema in a disused fish merchants in Newlyn can go ahead despite serious concerns over road safety.
The two-screen cinema – one with 86 seats and the other with 56 – and café bar, at the former Turners' fish merchants on The Coombe, was unanimously approved by Cornwall councillors on Monday.
One councillor said it could help the port to reclaim the crown as capital of West Cornwall's cultural community.
The plan, submitted by joint owners Suzie Sinclair and Alaistair Till, had been recommended for refusal by planning officers because of the lack of onsite parking and highway safety matters – in particular ensuring safe pedestrian access to the site. Penzance Town Council had opposed the scheme for similar reasons.
At Monday's west sub-area planning meeting, Penzance town councillor Ruth Lewarne said: "The single overriding issue is pedestrian safety. The site is on a blind corner and on an extremely narrow road; it's a very busy road, not just during the day but right up to late at night."
But councillors on the committee felt that the problems could be overcome.
Councillor Cornelius Olivier, who had pressed for the application to be brought before committee after it was originally destined to be decided through delegated powers, said: "If this is not a viable site for a business on safety grounds, then no other business in Newlyn is viable.
"There is a lot of sympathy for this as a project; it could even enable Newlyn to reclaim the crown of West Cornwall's cultural capital from St Ives."
Fellow councillor John Keeling said: "I believe there is adequate parking available and feel sure that measures can be put in place to mitigate the highway concerns.
"We should be doing what we can to encourage economic growth."
The committee also heard from highways development officer Huw Gibbon that there had been no recorded injuries on that stretch of road in the past five years. Councillor Keeling's recommendation that the scheme be approved was on the proviso that a satisfactory highway safety audit is carried out.
Ms Sinclair, who was backed by around 40 supporters at the meeting, said she hoped the cinema would be open by next summer and said she was surprised and relieved at the outcome.
"We feel that at last we have had some recognition for a good idea," she said.
"We addressed the highways issues even at the pre-application stage back in November so we are surprised today. We feel we have been battered by the planning process."