How do you like them apples?

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

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You wait over twenty five years for a new cinema to come along and provide some much needed competition for the Showcase and wouldn’t you know it, two come along at once.

As Forrest Gump once nearly said, “Peterborough is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get.”

So which of the two schemes should be given the green light? Well speaking as a fan of cinema - Frankly my dears, I don’t give a damn, just build one and I will come.

I, along with a number of people that I know of, have long since stopped putting ourselves through the battle of Boongate and instead we opt for the newer, cleaner options in Huntingdon or Leicester – it’s worth the drive just for the comfy seat and the cup holder, or as I like to call them, the basics.

You also get raked seating which still allows you to see Tom Cruise and his IMF friends, even when Big Daddy plops down right in front of you and starts chomping his way through a three tonne vat of popcorn.

But that money could and should be going into the coffers of this city and hopefully in the very near future it will be, if the usual suspects in the planning department can sort out another fine mess that the city has got itself 
into.

In one corner you have Hawsworth, the developers leading the North Westgate re-generation, who claim that they need a cinema to anchor their development. Without it they say the whole thing will be gone with the wind, hasta la vista baby.

In the other corner you have Queensgate, who feel the need, the need for speed. They maintain that Odeon Cinemas have already signed up for their £30m regeneration and they are ready to roll.

Peterborough city council leader, John Holdich, thinks that the force is with Queensgate, promising that the council will work with the developers of North Westgate, to find other suitable options for their site.

But what could those options be? What else could provide North Westgate with the thousands of people it needs through its doors every week to make the plans viable?

A ski slope would seem improbable and impractical whilst a music venue would be welcome, but unlikely to draw the required footfall every day of the week.

I think what we have here is a failure to communicate. Surely it would have been far better for the city if the two sides had worked together on this for the greater good.

As it is the planners now face Solomon’s choice.

Which is the more important for Peterborough’s future – the regeneration of what has long been an awkward and ugly blot on the city centre landscape or improving the offer at an already thriving shopping centre, which will in turn will attract more visitors and benefit our economy?

It’s Arnie against Sly, Godzilla against King Kong, Queensgate versus the long awaited North Westgate development.

In the words of Connor Macleod of the clan Macleod, “There can be only one,” One winner, one city centre cinema.