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Whitewater! We Want Our Cinema Now! Protest March

Newbridge Public Meeting Overwhelmingly Opposes Whitewater Plans To Relocate Cinema

A public meeting held on Thursday, 17th Feb 06 in The Keadeen Hotel to discuss plans by the Whitewater Shopping Centre development to relocate the cinema from the main Centre to another site had a massive turnout with standing room only in the large room. An estimate of attendance was 450.

The meeting, hosted by Newbridge Community Development (NCD), was in response to local anger and many requests for a public meeting. The event allowed people to vent their fury and speaker after speaker spoke about how angry and disappointed they were the Whitewater developers were reneging on their original agreement to site a 6-screen cinema in the main Centre. Whitewater has lodged two planning applications with Kildare Co Council, the first looking for change of use of the cinema space to more shops and a crèche and the second looks for planning for an 8-screen cinema, food court and parking at a site beside the Athgarvan Road.

Such was the anger at the meeting there were many calls for a public demonstration to show Whitewater how their actions are perceived. NCD emphasised this had to be in conjunction with lodging objections to the applications. A protest march has been planned for Saturday, 25th February at 12 noon at The Riverbank. A committee was formed from those present at the meeting to organise this demonstration.

Whitewater's main justification for the new applications is that a 6-screen cinema is not a viable operation, which is why the new plans include an 8-screen cinema. This excuse was rejected over and over by people at the meeting. One speaker had researched the issue and found no cinemas outside Dublin and Cork with more than six screens. In the past month, planning permission was given for a 6-screen cinema in Naas. Another speaker outlined the difference in value between cinema space and retail space. It is believed that retail space is worth a multiple of cinema space.

Other concerns included health and safety issues for people and children crossing the busy Newbridge Industries road to get from the main Centre to the Cinema, and not being able to leave children at the cinema and go shopping due to the large distance between the two areas under the new plans.

The Whitewater Centre made an application in 2003 to have the cinema space changed to offices, without any provision for another cinema space. This application was rejected by Kildare County Council. Their subsequent appeal to An Bórd Pleanála was also rejected.

The Shopping Centre, a joint venture between Ballymore Properties and Mountbrook Homes comprises approx 32,000 sq metres of shopping, leisure and commercial/office space. There will be 50 retail units, a 6-screen cinema, a large food court with seating for approx 500 people and 1,700 car spaces. The overall value of the scheme when completed is estimated to be in excess of €250 million. Anchor tenants already agreed include Debenhams and Marks & Spencers.

Objections to the Whitewater applications should be sent in writing to the Chief Planning Officer, Kildare Co Council, Naas. Objections must be made in writing before the specified date, accompanied by a €20 fee and stating the reference number of the application to which you are objecting.

  • Application for permission to replace existing Whitewater Cinema with shops and crèche is reference number 06/106. Objections must be lodged by 3 March 06.
  • Application for permission to build new 8-screen cinema at Bradshaw site with parking for 127 cars is 06/177. Objections must be lodged by 13 March 06.

Further information available from Josephine O'Connor (085 7216942) or Orla O'Neill (087 2569661)