PLANS for a town centre cinema and restaurants in Haverfordwest were given the green light by county planners this morning, August 1.

The council’s planning committee was meeting at County Hall and the ambitious plan for part of the Wilko site in Haverfordwest town centre was recommended for approval.

The plan is being put forward by the Longacre Retail Partnership.

The application - at Old Bridge - is to demolish and reconfigure the existing Wilko store and create a leisure development comprising five-screen cinema, four retail/ food and drink units, and outdoor seating areas.

It is expected to create some 65-85 full-time equivalent jobs, and improve the evening economy of the town, agent Lucy Turner told committee members.

Members heard the existing Wilko store would remain on site.

The restaurants and cinema entrance will be on the ground floor of the two-storey building, with the main cinema above.

The cinema would have a capacity of about 500 seats but would see the loss of 59 car parking spaces from the Perrots Road car park.

The report states that the ‘underused’ multi-storey car park nearby could take extra capacity.

The proposal also includes widening the riverside walkway, public space with seating, new surfacing and landscaping and covered cycle storage area.

The report acknowledges the site is on an area of flood risk but said no additional properties would be at risk of flooding as a result of the development.

It adds the plans would help attracts more visitors to the town centre.

It states that having regarded the total merits of the scheme, the proposal is “considered to not result in unacceptable harm to health and safety.”

The report states that the development would meet several elements of the Wales Spatial Plan and specifically its aims for Haverfordwest in terms of town centre renewal and attracting more visitors.

Speaking at the meeting, Haverfordwest Priory councillor David Bryan, who proposed approval, said: “For so long we have been waiting for this in Haverfordwest; we need to regenerate the town.

“This will surely increase the footfall, not only during the daytime, but the night-time as well. For far too long we’ve been haemorrhaging customers to Carmarthen; the enthusiasm for this in the town is overwhelming.

“Who knows? Next we may be able to do something about the river.”

He was seconded by Councillor Josh Beynon, who accepted earlier reservations by Cllr Brian Hall that the development was not coming to other towns in the county, adding: “If the county town grows, it gives hope to other towns.”

Cllr Hall had expressed his reservations but stressed he wouldn’t vote against the application.

Citing the example of Carmarthen’s successful St Catherine’s cinema and retail development, Councillor Rob Bowen said: “It’s well overdue to Haverfordwest, which has been haemorrhaging visitors to Carmarthen, it will bring much-needed employment, and bring people to the town.”

His views were echoed by Cllr Timothy Evans, who said; “It’s about time we had something like this come in to Haverfordwest; something like this will bring more people to the river.”

The application was passed nearly unanimously, with only Pembroke Dock councillor Brian Hall abstaining.