Cromarty has received the seal of approval for a purpose-built cinema and business hub.
With its unspoilt Georgian and Victorian townscape, a neglected area of the ancient sea port will be brought right up to date with a low-profile rectangular building made of profiled sheeting with raked seating for 35, and timber-clad office hub set around a courtyard.
The new cinema will be operated jointly with Eden Court, integrating with their box office and sharing the ticket revenue.
The development, proposed by Cromarty Estate with the Cromarty and Resolis Film Society, will be just east of the Slaughterhouse Café.
Highland councillors considering the application during yesterday’s North Planning Applications committee were unanimous in their support for the venture.
Councillor Angela Maclean said: “This is an exciting development for Cromarty, it’s a cosmopolitan, very artistic community.
“The development will help the Slaughterhouse Café, and it’s a venue that can be used by lots of different groups in the community.”
Councillor Margaret Paterson said it was one of most exciting things to happen in Cromarty.
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She acknowledged that not all in the community were behind the idea, with some doubting the financial viability of the cinema and the need for a business hub.
She said: “The film society is active and forward-thinking, and they will get the people.”
Councillor Raymond Bremner also praised the application, whilst acknowledging objectors’ reservations.
He said: “I hope the business plan stacks up, I can understand it could send a shiver up a lot of folks’ spines, fearing another new development that doesn’t quite work leaving the community with difficult buildings.”
Cromarty and Resolis Film Society trustee Fraser Mackenzie said the idea sprang from the success of the Screen Machine whenever it came to Cromarty.
He said: “We looked at every possible option for creating a dedicated cinema, from putting it in a container to using other buildings in the town. We looked at every building in the town and in the end decided we needed a stand-alone facility. We spoke to Eden Court and the cinema will be operated jointly with them, which reduces the licensing cost, means we can show blockbuster movies when they first come out.
“The business plans errs on the side of caution but shows it will be viable and sustainable.
“There’s a proven demand for office space, in these days of broadband links, people don’t need to go into Inverness or Dingwall, they can keep their businesses in Cromarty.”
The group will now apply for LEADER funding to get the project off the ground.