The design of a multiplex proposed in Horsham’s Swan Walk Shopping Centre has been criticised as ‘ill conceived’.
The centre, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, has submitted a planning application to Horsham District Council to demolish part of the site, currently home to Wilkinsons, Trend, and Hop Skip and Jump, and replace them with four restaurants, a new retail unit, and a five screen cinema.
The project will cover three floors and is expected to be open in autumn 2019, subject to approval.
However Horsham Denne Neighbourhood Council has lodged an objection, while the Horsham Society has criticised the proposed design.
Since the site for the cinema is ‘highly visible in an important location’, Philip Ayerst, responding on behalf of the Horsham Society, said they considered the appearance and materials proposed ‘have no relation to the buildings in the locality in materials or style’.
He added: “The appearance and the use of large areas of vertical metal cladding in a town centre location causes great concern and detracts from the concept of the design.
“Use of such cladding is more appropriate to industrial zones and has no precedent in a historic market town centre crossroads.”
He argued that large masses of cladding in a town centre constructed mainly of brick is ‘ill conceived’, and the proposed cinema elevation was ‘inappropriate for this sensitive and highly visible location’.
Meanwhile Trudie Mitchell, chair of Horsham Denne Neighbourhood Council, argued that the design was ‘incompatible with surrounding buildings and the nearby conservation area’, while the application did not take into account future proposals for the area formerly occupied by the Shelley Fountain.
She also raised questions about the need for a new cinema, given the popularity of Cineworld in Crawley where parking was free, the effect on the Capitol Theatre, and whether Swan Walk’s car park would have enough capacity to cater for a 800-seat cinema.
When the application was submitted Gill Buchanan, Swan Walk manger, said: “These are really exciting times for us all at Swan Walk.
“This investment delivering a large single level store alongside the new leisure and food offer means that our loyal shoppers will be able to access so much more in their town.”
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