Keith, Graham and Iain

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Gatley’s Tatton Cinema site: an update

by Iain Roberts on 14 March, 2011

Further update: a Conservative leaflet now being delivered (their first since last May) makes several false attacks on Pam and myself, include one about the possible Tatton land-swap. I have the evidence to prove the claims are false here.

Going around Gatley, Pam and I have noticed someone has posted anonymous notices on the Tatton and some noticeboards complaining of the lack of progress on sorting out the Tatton site.

The notice suggests you give your councillors a call to ask what’s being done. Pam and I are more than happy for you to call us about that – or any other issues.

The Council is still today investigating options that might be of interest to the owners to get something done, but it remains a privately owned site. We can put suggestions to the owners and we can work with them, but forcing anything to happen is a lot harder.

We also work with the Council and the owners to improve the current look of the site – for example by getting graffiti painted out and the area at the back maintained. The Council has limited legal powers for that, but is pursuing them.

I’d like to go over the history of the site, because the anonymous notice says something which is simply untrue: it claims that the Council have rejected all previous planning applications for the site.

When the cinema closed down the site was sold on at the top of the market and a series of developers have struggled to find a way to make a profit from it.

In 2002 a planning application was granted for one scheme, but the developer never proceeded. In 2008 another application was withdrawn by the developers. Only one application has been rejected by the Council as far as I know, and that was in 2009.

As you probably remember there was a big local campaign against the proposal to convert the site into a large convenience store with a care home to the rear. Council officers proposed granting it, but councillors – including my predecessor Brian Millard – came to the view that it wasn’t the right development for the village.

We were aware at the time that there was a risk in rejecting the proposal – that another might not be along for a while, but we have worked hard since to find one.

In late 2009 and early 2010 we worked with Council officers to investigate a “land swap”. The idea was for the land behind the Tatton cinema to be swapped for some land the Council currently owns – and for the land behind the Tatton to become a public car park. A lot of work was done searching for suitable land across Stockport – with all the local councillors being involved – but unfortunately we weren’t able to find the right location.

People also mention compulsory purchase – it remains a possibility. This is when the Council finds an alternative owner for the site with a plan to develop it and can force the sale to that owner. It’s not an easy option. There are lots of legal issues and get-out clauses around it..

We’ve also looked at the possibility of the Council purchasing the site for community use (many people have told us they’d like it to be a library, community centre or similar). We think that’s a great idea and we’d love to see it happen, but the money just isn’t there at the moment and there’s no sign that it will be in the near future.

So that’s where we are at the moment. The site is privately owned by Dickens Property Group who, very reasonably, want to make a decent return on their investment. The two proposals they’ve come up with in recent years have met with strong local opposition and they have the option of sitting on their investment and waiting for property prices to rise again.

Pam and I will continue to actively look for opportunities to sort out the site and get a development that works for Gatley, but there are no quick wins or easy answers.


8 Responses

  1. John Hartley says:

    Presumably the snag about Compulsory Purchase is that, if there was another developer with a profitable scheme for the Council to sell on to, then you;d have thought Dickens might have been more than happy to sell it to them direct.

    Or, of course, adopt that profitable scheme themselves.

    Seems to me that the idea of a CPO is a red herring – it’s really only of use when a developer is deliberately not trying to do anything. Something Dickens certainly can’t be accused of.

  2. Robert Taggart says:

    Is this eyesore listed ( methinks not -from previous correspondence) ? If not – pull it down !
    The Tatton building has always been ‘at odds’ with the rest of Gatley – oversized, garish and, for some of us, on the ‘wrong side’ of the road !
    Community use be all well and good, but, ‘we’ then have to pay for it – ‘we’ pay quite enough in tax as it be ! So no thankyou.
    A small housing / apartments development or even a small office development (both no more than two storeys high) would surely suffice ? As for supermarkets – have we not enough now (Tesco inc.) ?

  3. Phil Johnson says:

    Thank-you for an excellent summary of the history.
    However clearly the explanation, local people appear not to understand that the site is privately owned.
    Mr Taggart now gives his opinions as to how the site should be developed, as though it is in the power of the Councillors.
    Having had their 2009 proposal rejected, I doubt that Dickens will want to invest more time and expense in anticipation of community opposition to anything which is likely to turn a profit for the developer.
    Tesco at the Red Lion has made it doubly difficult for Dickens.
    Unfortunately I think we must expect a derelict site for a long time to come.

  4. Robert Taggart says:

    re: Phil Johnson. It be not in the power of councillors to demand such, but, it be within their remit to ‘suggest’ such !
    One would think Gatley has more than enough retail outlets… so what to do with this site otherwise ?

  5. John Hartley says:

    Mr Taggart perhaps has a point about “more than enough retail outlets”. I believe I count twelve restaurants and takeaways, four places to buy a coffee, six places to buy a birthday card, seven places offering haircuts or other “personal care” services. And no greengrocer.

  6. Iain Roberts says:

    The problem is, of course, that retailers aren’t there to be charities and nor should they be.

    Pete closed the greengrocers because it wasn’t making enough money – not enough people were shopping there.

    The restaurants, hairdressers, takeaways etc. remain open because, I assume, they’re providing something people want to buy and so they’re making a profit.

    We have some planning rules that allow us to restrict fast food places in certain situations, but we can’t stop any development on the grounds that it competes against existing local businesses. Actually, fast food seems to be a good business to go into, whether we like it or not. The planning people tell me they get more enquiries from people wanting to open take-aways than any other sort of business, and clearly there are lots of people buying from them.

    With some exceptions, if someone wants to open a business and take that risk, it’s (by law) up to them – not us – to decide whether the village needs it.

  7. Samantha says:

    It is honestly my fondest wish to see the Tatton Cinema restored to its former glory and then some, with further development bringing it into the technical age. The cinema was loved by many throughout Gatley and the surrounding areas and I can’t help but think that now there are more children in Gatley park than there where when I was of that age so is there a bigger market for it nowadays?

    I honestly resent the idea of turning it into flats or office space there is far too much of that going around, you only have to go a short distance to Sharston roundabouts to see not so newly finished office building over half empty and have been that way for a very long time. We do not need more of this!

    Gatley is a small village at the cinema was one of its best attributes when I moved into the area with my family it was a massive plus! As one local said “The Tatton is one of the few places where parents feel safe sending their children. No-one wants to send a child to a multiplex up the road in Manchester because it simply isn’t safe. That’s one of the reasons why the Tatton is so special.” – Why not bring that back!

    I am sure the people of Gatley (and in surrounding areas) would have more loyalty to the Tatton than the multiplex at Parrs Wood if it were restored. I know I would!!!

    If I was lucky enough to be in the financial position I would restore it. I can dream and hope and pray…

  8. Robert Taggart says:

    @Samantha. The ‘cinema’ has gone – only the facade survives. Methinks this to be out of keeping with the village – in both style and size.
    One recalls some airy-fairy nonsense being talked about saving the cinema just before it closed – it would have required much dosh to be donated on the part of local residents – suffice to say the locals kept their cash in their pockets !

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