Funding woes stall plans to develop Royston cinema site

FUNDING woes have stalled plans to develop Royston’s former cinema site.

North Hertfordshire Homes bought the Priory Cinema site in September 2009 – which was also home to a restaurant and outdoor swimming pool – but because of difficulties securing �3m worth of funds the former entertainment hub has been left to decay.

Kevin Thompson, chief executive of the housing association, said: “It is unfortunate that the site has been vacant for so long.

“After initial consultations with local residents, we had tried a number of routes to secure funding for much needed affordable homes, but have been continually disappointed.

“We have recently reviewed the options for providing homes on this site, and we will be liaising with the town council shortly. North Hertfordshire Homes remains committed to building new homes.”

Plans for sheltered housing were mooted, followed by an alternative scheme for affordable homes on the vacant site near the junction of Priory Lane and Newmarket Road.

Several other proposals for the land were also floated but were not followed up.

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Homeowners nearby are concerned the derelict site will attract intruders and possibly affect house prices.

Christine Lawrence, whose Priory Close home backs on to the site said: “It’s a disgrace. You can watch little kids go through the gates or through the door on their bikes and play in there.

“To be quite honest you would have thought it would have all been filled in and built on – obviously it hasn’t – it’s a playground for undesirables.”

Another resident who lived near the site described it as an eyesore – but added she had got used to it.

But one Priory Close resident was more scathing.

“It’s just a mess as you’re passing through town. It’s not very nice,” said Linda Gray.

North Herts Homes says it has increased the security of the site after inspecting it, but last Thursday a small fire was started on the former Green Plunge pool site.

The blaze was quickly put out by firefighters, and the housing association says a small access gate has since been made secure.

District Councillor Bill Davidson, who is also a board member for the housing association, said there were plans being drawn up, but added that the site as it stands may be problematic for Royston.

“It isn’t good for the town. I do know for a fact that North Herts Homes lost the funding they were given by the government to develop the site,” he said.

“We’re obviously disappointed and will have to go back to the drawing board.

“As far as I’m aware it has stalled – but not indefinitely – although until such time as we get funding nothing much will happen.”