Cinema’s aim is to cover all of Lochaber
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