Cinema redevelopment plan unveiled

A POPUAR theatre which has hosted some of the greatest acts of the modern era is outdated and needs replacing with a complex fit for the 21st century, developers have claimed.

A POPUAR theatre which has hosted some of the greatest acts of the modern era is outdated and needs replacing with a complex fit for the 21st century, developers have claimed.

The ambitious plans were outlined by Colwyn Developments as a way to regenerate the former Odeon Cinema building in the Major's Corner area of Ipswich.

As part of the proposals the company, which bought the site last year, said if the opportunity arose they would also favour knocking down the neighbouring Regent Theatre and re-developing the accompanying car park to create a modern, eye-catching landmark.

However, Ipswich Borough Council has been quick to play-down the option because the building, which has played host to The Beatles, Status Quo and The Bay City Rollers to name just a few, is listed and cannot be demolished.


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It is thought any potential development would cost between £50million and £100m and would be a mix of leisure and residential use, including a conference centre and arts complex.

Spokesman for Colwyn Development Jeremy Goddard said: “It's just an option and if the council don't go for it then so be it. We are the owners of the Odeon site and merely giving them an opportunity - we don't want to get anyone's backs up.

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“At the moment as you approach the site from St Margret's Square all you see is a 100ft breeze block wall which, given that we are soon going to be trying to sell Ipswich to students who want to come here for the university, isn't very eye-catching.

“The town has already seen huge innovation along the waterfront, which is brilliant, but there is so much more than just that. Ipswich needs to modernise and this potential development presents us with a great opportunity to move into the 21st century.”

Mr Goddard said the only other offers for use of the Odeon building had been from nightclubs, a lap dancing club and a bowling alley.

He said if councillors did reject the proposals then there was a chance for a compromise settlement which would incorporate the Regent into any future development.

Paul Weston, director with Fore Street-based Charter Consultant Architects, which designed the preliminary plans, said he was confident any development would be a real focal point.

However, Judy Terry, borough council portfolio holder for culture and leisure said any suggestion of demolishing the Regent was a complete non-starter because the theatre is listed.

“I am personally very pleased about that because the Regent is a much-loved venue and things are really on the up there, as demonstrated through the success of the recent pantomime,” she said.

“We are looking at making improvements to all aspects of the building, from the stage to the toilets and it was made clear to the developers that we were not interested in disposing of it.

“It was on the verge of closure 18 months ago but we are absolutely delighted with recent progress and during the last arts consultation members of the public said it was their most popular venue.”

craig.robinson@eadt.co.uk

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