BICESTER’S new £3.2m cinema will be able to show movies all night and serve alcohol until the early hours, despite concerns from residents.
Vue Cinemas has been given a cover-all premises licence for its seven-screen, 854-seat movie theatre as part of the town centre re-development.
It includes 24-hour operations, sale of alcohol until 2.30am, live music and dance. Fifty-three people objected to the application.
Residents in nearby Hunt Close and retirement complex Hanover Gardens raised a string of concerns, including increased noise from people leaving the cinema by car or on foot, light pollution, an increase in antisocial behaviour and the sale of alcohol into the early hours.
But Vue has tried to allay residents’ fears, insisting it expected the cinema to open after 10pm only three days a week and that all-night opening would be infrequent.
Dozens of householders turned up to have their say at a Cherwell District Council sub licensing committee on Monday, at John Paul II Centre, in the Causeway. Residents wanted to see restrictions imposed on the sale of alcohol and operating times.
Ray Danzey, of Hanover Gardens, said: “I hear everyone walking up and down Manorsfield Road. Anything after 12am is going to keep me awake.”
John Leverton, of Hunt Close, fears residents will suffer “persistent sleep disruption” from people leaving the cinema either in cars or on foot, using the residential area as a short cut.
Stuart Clark Dunn, also of Hunt Close, said: “We have lived here 26 years and have first hand experience of the levels of noise from the car park and drunk people shouting their heads off at 3.30am.”
Cherwell district and Oxfordshire county councillor Lawrie Stratford suggested the cinema operate until midnight and stop selling alcohol at 11.30pm.
Neither Cherwell District Council’s anti-social behaviour officer or Thames Valley Police raised any objections.
During the hearing, the council was told only ticket holders could buy alcohol and they would be restricted to two drinks.
Vue’s solicitor Jonathan Smith said 79 of its 80 cinemas sold alcohol, and drinks cost £4.35 for a small beer and £4.65 for a glass of wine.
He said: “You are not looking at some rogue operator here – it’s good for the town, good for diversity. If we don’t operate this properly, you can review us.”