Cin­ema’s aim is to cover all of Lochaber

The Oban Times - - LETTERS -

Sir,

In re­sponse to the let­ter of Au­gust 23 re­gard­ing the Lochaber Cin­ema Group plans for a com­mu­nity cin­ema in Fort Wil­liam, we would like to an­swer some of the con­cerns raised.

Lochaber Cin­ema Group has been work­ing since Fe­bru­ary 2016.

We have tried to cover as much of Lochaber as our vol­un­teers can man­age. We have screened chil­dren’s movies once a month in the Venue Cin­ema and The­atre in Kin­lochleven, The Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Caol, and Kil­mallie Hall in Cor­pach. We also went out last Christ­mas to screen a movie at many lo­cal pri­mary schools, in­clud­ing Mal­laig pri­mary school.

We ini­tially looked at the old cin­ema build­ing in Cameron Square, how­ever, given the costs of up­grad­ing, in­clud­ing a new fire es­cape route, new dis­abled ac­cess lift, fur­ther ma­jor up­grad­ing in­side, it was clear that this was not a project that was vi­able. In or­der to re­ceive grant fund­ing, you need to own the prop­erty or have a long lease of 20+ years, and nei­ther of th­ese would have been an op­tion.

Our plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion was sub­mit­ted and up on the coun­cil web­site from Fri­day 16/06/2017 and plan­ners were seek­ing com­ments for nine weeks. The plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion it­self was from months of work put in by our agent Stephen Fair.

There were no ob­jec­tions from lo­cal busi­nesses or from res­i­dents in the neigh­bour­ing flats. We also held a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion meet­ing two weeks ago in the Dun­cans­burgh Church Hall. Plenty of time was al­lowed for sub­mit­ting com­ments di­rectly to the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion process. The plan­ners did a great job in is­su­ing plan­ning per­mis­sion on time and with­out any oner­ous con­di­tions.

Their ap­proach fits per­fectly with the Scot­tish Govern­ment aims: to in­crease town cen­tre foot­fall, and en­cour­age in­no­va­tive re-use of retail units whilst na­tional shop­ping habits con­tinue to change and risk the de­cline of tra­di­tional high streets. Far bet­ter to see two empty High Street units back in use, and an all-weather, all-year-round com­mu­nity use at that.

The shop units we have cho­sen have had much spec­u­la­tion as to the siz­ing but as our plans show, two screens can be fit­ted in there. What is wrong with be­ing small? We do not aspire to be a mul­ti­plex cin­ema in fact many com­mu­nity cin­ema groups have sprung up in re­cent years all over Scot­land.

LCG would like to thank the plan­ners of Lochaber for giv­ing our project the green light and giv­ing Lochaber the chance to have a new en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­ity for all ages.

As a group, LCG are mem­bers of Cin­ema for All, Filmhub Scot­land and Film­bank. We have also been re­ceiv­ing ad­vice from the Eden Court pro­gram­mer, di­rec­tor of Re­gional Screen Scot­land and var­i­ous other cin­ema and film in­dus­try peo­ple. We have taken the time over the last two years to forge th­ese re­la­tion­ships.

The group it­self has worked ex­tremely hard in de­liv­er­ing screenings and be­ing in­volved in get­ting to know the cin­ema and film in­dus­try. In­for­ma­tion about our project is on our web­site and on our Face­book page.

What has been most heart­en­ing in the last few days, is the sup­port we as in­di­vid­u­als, and as a group, have re­ceived both in per­son, and on our Face­book page. We would like to thank each per­son who has voiced their sup­port, it means a lot to us all. Marie MacPher­son LCG Chair­per­son

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