Mill theatre plan anger

PLANS: Redbrick Mill wants to increase its retail floorspace by around a third and no longer intends to provide the community theatre featured in its original plans.
PLANS: Redbrick Mill wants to increase its retail floorspace by around a third and no longer intends to provide the community theatre featured in its original plans.

A SHOPPING centre’s decision to scrap its community theatre plans has angered councillors.

Redbrick Mill Limited wants to increase its retail space by a third and provide rehearsal space instead of the theatre promised in its original planning application.

But objectors say Redbrick’s new plans will deny the community of “desperately needed” facilities.

The development, in Bradford Road, won planning permission in 2006 but a legal agreement, which was a condition of the permission, was never signed.

In its new, retrospective application, Redbrick said it needed the extra retail space to maintain turnover.

A planning report said that Redbrick and council officers had talked about the theatre and it was “agreed that such a theatre is no longer required”.

But last Thursday, the Heavy Woollen planning committee heard from a member of the group originally set-up to help plan the theatre.

Denis Ripley said: “It’s absolutely appalling. Dewsbury Little Theatre is in a terrible state. This theatre is so desperately needed.”

Coun Andrew Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) said: “I’m really unhappy with this application. I think the reason we went ahead originally is that there was a community benefit.”

Coun Paul Kane, chairman of the Heavy Woollen planning committee, accused council officers of working too closely with Redbrick.

He said: “I think there’s some collusion going on here. The report says there’s no requirement for a theatre any more but that hasn’t come from the community. It’s come from officers.

“The one thing I think is totally fundamental is the value of the community gain.”

The application was deferred while a more up-to-date flood risk assessment is made.

Redbrick agent Robert Holstead said: “I listened very carefully to what everyone said and will be making responses to those points at the next meeting.”