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Concerns raised over Everyman cinema conversion plan at former Bury St Edmunds Debenhams site

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Plans to build a new cinema at the former Debenhams site in Bury St Edmunds have run into opposition, with residents questioning the need for a new venue.

Everyman Cinemas submitted a planning application in January, and work to strip the building's interior has been underway for some time.

Nevertheless, the scheme has yet to be approved by West Suffolk Council, and a public consultation is underway.

Plans have been submitted to convert the former Debenhams building into a cinema
Plans have been submitted to convert the former Debenhams building into a cinema

A number of residents have responded negatively to the proposals, arguing that the existing multiplexes already serve the town adequately.

Moreover, they question the planned use of the premises, with only the building's basement set to serve as a cinema.

The Debenhams building is part of the arc Shopping Centre complex, and is situated close to a number of residential streets.

In a consultation response, one woman stated: "I am an enthusiastic cinema-goer, but I have been to only one cinema out of the two in our town for years.

"With the popularity of streaming services at home, home cinemas and food delivery has become so simple and popular since March 2020. I do not anticipate a third cinema be viable.

"This proposal is for the use of the basement only, in a three-storey building, limiting the use of the rest of the building, having to create separate access to the ground and upper floor. I think the building can be used better."

Another consultee said: "This proposed facility wants to open earlier than many other business in the arc. What about deliveries prior to early openings?

"Most importantly, they propose opening seven days a week until 2.30am, even on a Sunday and holidays.

"Setting a precedent for other venues nearby."

After reviewing the application, an environmental health officer at West Suffolk Council requested a noise assessment.

They warned that a new cinema at the arc could result in a 'loss of amenity from noise' for nearby householders.

However, the subsequent report from RBA Acoustics found that the development would be unlikely to cause 'undue disturbances'.