New luxury cinema wins bid to extend opening hours
A new luxury cinema in Durham City has won a bid to extend its opening hours despite noise fears.
On June 7, the first filmgoers are expected to be welcomed into the Odeon Luxe as part of the Riverwalk development.
The six-screen cinema will show the latest blockbusters, provide 403 handmade reclining seats and is set to create 38 jobs.
This week, (May 7) cinema bosses won a bid to extend their opening hours on mornings and evenings.
And the changes were agreed by Durham County Council’s area planning committee at Durham County Hall.
New hours include Sunday to Thursday, 9am -1am and Friday to Saturday, 9am- 2am.
And on 10 occasions every year, the cinema can open until 3am.
During council consultation, City of Durham Parish Council said changes could cause disruption to people living in the area.
This includes properties in Lambton Walk, flats in the Riverwalk development itself and dwellings proposed on the nearby Milburngate House site.
Durham Constabulary also raised fears that “a precedent could be set” around late night closures.
However, these comments were linked to the original application when Odeon originally wanted to open until 3am every day.
Coun Roger Cornwell, of City of Durham Parish Council, said that existing opening hours were “equitable” and “late enough.”
He told the meeting: “The original planning application struck a balance between the operator’s desire to make a profit and the need of local people to have an undisturbed night’s sleep.
“The times then set were closing at midnight during the week and 2am on Friday and Saturday and we urge you to stick with those times which already give quite a lot to the operator and have been reached as a compromise.”
The parish councillor also claimed county environmental officers failed to explore the impact of 1am extension between Sunday and Thursday.
And he added allowing the Odeon to extend its opening times could lead to a “deregulation of hours and uncontrolled expansion of the night time economy.”
Several councillors, including Coun Mark Wilkes, said they were unsure whether the Odeon needed extra hours or whether changes would cause disruption.
On potential disruption, Coun Simon Wilson, added: “I understand the concerns that are there but I wouldn’t expect a cinema to be going down that route, unless we have people trying to reenact Dunkirk along the riverline.”
Coun John Clare also said he agreed with planning officers who concluded there would be no “unacceptable detimental impacts” on neighbours.
“If you live in the city centre have to expect you’re living in a busy commercial hub and part of a city centre is the night time economy,” he told the meeting.
“It’s important to the city, county’s visitor economy, to a thriving city centre and bluntly, it will be vital to the survival of the cinema.”
Following discussion, councillors voted unanimously to grant the extended hours.
The new cinema is set to join restaurants, shops and student accommodation as part of the £40million Riverwalk development.
The final step for the Odeon includes a licensing application.
This includes alcohol sales from 11am-midnight, Sunday to Thursday and 11am-1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
A decision is expected from the council’s licensing team in the coming weeks.
Caption: Odeon cinema, Riverwalk development, Durham, April 2019
Caption: Odeon ‘Luxe’ screens, Odeon
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service