A 10-month delay in the planning process for the proposed new 10-screen cinema for the Athboy Road in Navan is putting the project in doubt, according to the company behind the project.
Spokesman for Flix Cinema and Leisure, Darren Corcoran, pointed out that the multiplex cinema project announced last year for the Navan Retail Park at Knockumber would create 60 new jobs for the town.
It comes as a warning was issued this week that economic activity in Navan is being strangled and up to 60 potential jobs could be lost to the town because of planning delays. Economic development is under threat because building projects are being stalled in An Bord Pleanala, it was claimed by Cllr Shane Cassells.
Cllr Cassells questioned senior planners at a meeting as to how they could get things moving at the Navan area planning protocol meeting last week. He gave an example of the cinema project to highlight the way economic development was "being strangled".
"It is totally unacceptable that an appeal can sit on a desk for 10 months and not be dealt with, considering this application could create both construction jobs and long-term employment in the centre," he said.
Originally, the cinema developers, Flix Cinema and Leisure, had hoped to have the complex, which would have 1,918 seats, constructed by the end of this year, having been granted permission by Navan Town Council in November 2011.
However, the grant of permission was appealed to An Bord Pleanala by Lexeme Retail Properties Ltd and Showtime Cinemas five days before Christmas.
Mr Corcoran warned that while they are committed to the Navan cinema project, the continuing delay was putting the project in doubt. "Navan isn't the only place that needs a top-grade cinema," he said.
"We have opportunities for other sites, particularly in the UK, and we have expressed an opinion to An Bord Pleanala that we cannot wait forever," he said.
Mr Corcoran said they had initially hoped to be open last summer. "If we get planning permission before Christmas, we would hope to be open by next summer, but if we don't get a decision before Christmas, we will run into all sorts of problems," he added.
A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanala said that the Flix application had been with them for some time. She said there was no definite date for a decision, but the board said it hopes to deal with it as quickly as possible.
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