LOOK: Old town centre Odeon cinema could become 55 flats
PUBLISHED: 10:47 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:47 13 May 2020
An iconic landmark in Colchester could be torn down if plans to replace it with more than 50 town centre flats are given the go-ahead.
The original building for the Odeon Cinema, which opened in 1931, is currently vacant in Crouch Street after the cinema chain moved to Head Street in 2002.
Since then vandalism, rough sleeping and repeated incidents of suspected arson have left it in a state of ruin internally.
However, the facade at the front of the building was recognised as a Locally Listed building in 2011, which means it is a culturally significant structure and its importance should be considered in planning decisions.
Now plans have been submitted to the council to tear down the existing building and build 55 flats in its place – with the developers hoping plans for a new facade in the style of the old theatre will permit them to knock the old one down.
In the planning statement on the application, it says: “This cinema building is locally listed, and the foyer building can be said to make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the area.
“However, the building now is very much redundant.
“The building has been the subject of extensive marketing over the years and an entertainment use has not come forward.
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“The proposals will regrettably remove the 89 year old building, however following comprehensive assessment of different options, the proposals represent the only available solution that will deliver a viable use of the site that will bring forward a substantial improvement to the appearance of the street and conservation area.”
The plans have already met opposition from ward councillors, including Conservative Simon Crow.
“It looks like something similar would be built in its place but it is an important part of the street scene,” he said.
“There was talk of a music venue or a market in the building but no one had the money or will for a different use, so it’s going to be flats.
“But I’m concerned about the risk we could lose a locally listed building altogether.”
Green councillor Mark Goacher has also applied to have the decision ‘called in’ - so it could be decided by councillors rather than council officers.
Just because the building is dilapidated does not mean that the facade should be demolished,” he said.
“These are uncertain times. I would not want this plan to be approved and see the facade taken down for another financial crash hit the economy and the plans dropped.”
Meetings of Colchester councillors are set to resume in June over Zoom due to social distancing measures.
Owner Blumarble Property Ltd has made previous applications to see the site renovated which included the original facade, with the latest plans for luxury flats and retail space approved in 2018.
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