BOB Booker (Alton North West) agreed, pointing out that Alton was a growing community and would need more facilities not less.

Since funding could be a problem he suggested a mix of commercial/community use, adding that the local cinema owner had indicated such an interest.

Mr Booker had some sympathy with the officers whom, he said, had Òtried to walk a tightropeÓ - holding fire on enforcing the 106 Agreement in the hope that one-time proposals by the Holybourne Theatre would take off resulting in an appropriate use of the building.

But, he insisted, the owners still had a responsibility to maintain the building and action should be taken to see they did so.

Members refused to grant both planning and listed building consent on grounds that the nature of the use and the subdivision would be detrimental to the character and fabric of the listed church building. And they determined to enforce the Section 106 agreement.