A lengthy process of public notification, submission review and legal advice has concluded, resulting in Kempsey Shire Council voting to enter into a Voluntary Planning Agreement with Gowings for construction of the Kempsey Cinema.
The April 17 Council meeting gave the public a further opportunity to speak to Councillors and engage with the project, with six members of the public nominating to speak on a wide range of viewpoints.
It's been a talking point within the community since first being proposed, with the Kempsey Cinema Action Group formed in opposition to its construction.
The groups argument against the development centred on the cost to ratepayers, and a lack of economic benefit.
Mayor Liz Campbell acknowledged that reaching this decision has been complex for both the community and the Councillors.
“During the meeting, like several previous occasions, we heard lots of discussion and debate on the cinema project.
“I thank all the people who have taken time to try and understand the project, the rationale behind it and shared their opinions through Council’s formal channels.
“By resolving to execute the VPA we’ve reached the most conclusive milestone in the projects history.
“This project has the support and continued commitment of the Federal Government through the National Stronger Regions Fund, which recognises the significance of the cinema’s value to the community both economically and socially.” said Cr Campbell.
All Councillors spoke during the debate with much of the focus on confirming that the terms of the VPA will ensure that the cinema provides an enduring public benefit.
In concluding the discussion and putting the item to the vote Councillor McGinn encouraged her colleagues to ‘seize the day’ and move ahead to make the concept of a cinema in the Kempsey CBD a reality.
“If this project can deliver just some of the results that have been achieved by Gowings and Majestic in their other markets, today’s decision means we will realise huge positive social and economic change in the Macleay,” Cr Campbell concluded.