Former Odeon cinema to go back under the hammer next month

The old Odeon building in Crouch Street, Colchester, in 2019 Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

The former Odeon in Colchester had been due to go under the hammer on Wednesday - Credit: Archant

A historic former cinema in Colchester will go back under the hammer in May after it was pulled from an online auction at the last minute. 

The 90-year-old former Odeon building, in Crouch Street, had been due to go on sale on Wednesday in the Dedman Gray property auction, with a reserve of £2.25million. 

However, the venue, which has been vacant for 20 years, was withdrawn from the auction just a few hours before bidding started. 

Mike Gray, managing director of Dedman Gray, said the building will go back under the auctioneer's gavel next month. 

"It was decided just a few hours before the auction to withdraw it, but continue to offer it in our May auction," he told BBC Radio Essex. 

"There's a few regional developers looking at it, and they just needed a bit more time for their due diligence.

"It's a complicated project and time was against them, so the main enquiries we had just needed a little bit longer."

There have been a series of attempts in recent years to renovate and transform the former cinema, which closed its doors to customers in October 2002. 

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Most recent plans - to demolish the site and replace it with a replica building, 55 apartments, two retail units and a 32-space basement car park - were rejected in August last year. 

Objections at the time were raised by Historic England, the Cinemas Theatre Association and the Theatres Trust on the grounds it would destroy an important surviving work of major cinema architect Cecil Masey.

Mr Gray said potential bidders are also having to consider the impact of a rise in building costs. 

"One of the things we are finding with this type of complicated project is that with the rise in building costs since the pandemic, which has been quite incredible in the last 12 months, these sort of projects are becoming more expensive to actually see through and develop," he added. 

"The thing with a building like the Odeon is that it's nice to try and preserve the façade and general appearance of the original building, and all of those type of materials have increased incredibly."

Previous plans for the site have included a 1,700-capacity nightclub, which was refused on appeal in 2008.