A new row engulfed Newton Abbot after a government ministry told campaigners plans to redevelop the Alexandra Theater “could” be changed.
Teignbridge council has repeatedly stated that the approved application for the building cannot be considered “in isolation”.
However, activists fighting the plans say they have been told by a government department that the plans may in fact be changed, especially in light of the changing nature of main streets since the start of the pandemic.
Activists who want to stop development say they have been told by the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that the plans “can be changed” without risking enforcement.
An email seen by the Mid-Devon announcer of the Future High Streets team said: “… it is unlikely that the approved proposals can be delivered without any changes, however minor.
âThis is why we are currently developing a project adjustment process, which will be deployed soon. This will specify the procedure of places to adjust their agreed proposals, whether minor, until the complete replacement of one of their interventions.
âThis will give venues the assurance that the proposals they submit will be fit for the purpose of their downtown / main street. “
Teignbridge council voted to accept the government’s Â£ 9.2million funding for Future High Streets in May.
A campaign group formed for the âSave the Alexâ theater organized a family event last weekend – see page 6.
Campaigners say the public is being ignored after a meeting hosted by Newton Abbot City Council between opposing factions was not attended by Teignbridge Council.
When approached for clarification, a spokesperson for MHCLG said: âWe are unable to comment on individual Future High Street Fund projects.
“Teignbridge District Council has received Â£ 9million in funding from Future High Street and the next step in this project lies with the council, working with its local delivery partners.”
Responding to claims from city activists, a spokesperson for Teignbridge said one theater was economically ‘unsustainable’.
The spokesperson explained: “We are implementing the plans which have been supported by the Future High Street Fund and approved by the council for the regeneration of Newton Abbot.
“We are re-establishing a historic building as a focal point of the market district, providing facilities that will meet the needs of a wider range of local interests through the planned multi-use space that will allow the staging of a range performance.
âAs we move through the design and planning stages, it will be possible to make some detail changes, but this will fit into the overall approved plans and will not involve retaining a theater space. autonomous which, in our view, is not economically viable without a subsidy from the Council.
“Our plans were carefully reviewed last year to meet revised funding requirements and to verify any impact from Covid and we will not be reviewing them.”
Andrew Malcolm, of Friends of the Alexandra Theater, said he was “confident” that Teignbridge Council was ignoring the public about it and that the email the activists received proved it was not too late to change course on the plans.
He said: âSince the pandemic, changes to plans can be substantial. The view of the main street has changed dramatically. The plans were originally slated to be a three-year timeframe, from scoop to completion, but since the coronavirus, the team at Future High Streets have been expecting plans to change.