Cornwall: Drive-thru cinema coming to Watergate Bay this summer

The company ran a drive-thru cinema at the Boardmasters Festival site last year. Credit: Wavelength Media

A cliff-top drive-in cinema in Cornwall is set to be streaming Hollywood films this summer after it was granted a license to operate.

Wavelength Media applied to Cornwall Council for a licence to run the drive-thru movie theatre from a field overlooking Watergate Bay.

The company also asked to hold a three-day festival at the same site but this was scrapped for 2021 and that part of the application was withdrawn.

Under the proposals, top movies will be shown on a big open-air screen from Thursdays to Sundays from 9 July to 5 September.

All screenings will be weather dependent and there could be multiple movies shown on each day. People will also be able to buy food and drink on site.

People won't be allowed to walk to the site. Credit: LDRS

The same company operated an open-air cinema last year using the same site as Boardmasters Festival, which was cancelled due to Covid-19.

However, with Boardmasters hoping to return in 2021 the operators had to find a new location.

Wavelength Media will now run the cinema in a field overlooking Watergate Bay after Cornwall Council’s licensing act sub committee unanimously agreed to grant it a licence.

There were fears about noise but the cinema will use a system which will send the soundtrack for the films to people’s car stereos using FM signal.

People will also not be able to attend the event on foot after concerns were raised about people accessing the site via the coast path.

There had also been objections to the application from Newquay Town Council and local Cornwall councillor John Fitter.

The town council said it believed the licence “will have a significant impact on the residents of Newquay” and raised concerns about public nuisance, noise, safety and traffic.

Councillors said they were concerned up to 300 vehicles could arrive at the site at the same time, which could block roads in Watergate Bay and cause disruption.

The firm said it hopes guests will arrive and leave using a staggered approach and security staff will on site and other staff will help with traffic management.

The site overlooks Watergate Bay. Credit: LDRS

Cllr Fitter said he feared the drive-in cinema could disturb people who would be staying at a campsite opposite the location.

He felt there was “a massive danger of public nuisance” and said he was also concerned about the need for the protection of children from harm.

He said: “There will be a bar facility etc so the children will perhaps remain in the car, waiting for the film to start, who is supervising those children in the car waiting for the film to start? Who is making sure that we don’t have people with ulterior motives walking around and opening doors of cars to see who is inside and a young child is inside where the parents have gone to get drinks from the bar?

“No, I am sorry this is a recipe for in fact presenting a danger to children. This has not been identified enough and not been addressed in that manner.”

Public safety and environmental health officers from the council confirmed they are satisfied with the measures put in place by organisers to address any concerns.

It is thought the cinema could boost the local economy, with £200,000 being spent with local suppliers both on and off site and £150,000 expected to be generated by on-site trade.

It has also been guaranteed local people will be employed to work at the events throughout the summer.

The licensing committee said the “comprehensive” event management plan had helped to provide assurance that the events would be run safely and responsibly.

Credit: Richard Whitehouse, The Local Democracy Reporting Service

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