Leiston: Theatre expansion plan revealed

A BID to extend Suffolk’s oldest purpose-built cinema has been laid out ahead of formal proposal.

The plan to develop Leiston Film Theatre was presented by manager Wayne Burns to the monthly meeting of the town council, which has owned the building for 35 years.

Accompanied by architect, Craig Driver, Mr Burns set out a desire to increase the size of the theatre to allow more space for dressing rooms, storage and a bigger costume hire department, which is currently located on the first floor up a narrow spiral staircase.

If the proposal were approved, the theatre would need funding for the project either in the shape of a loan from the town council, through the public works loan board, or via the sale of a little-used car park at the back of the building for private development.

Mr Burns told the council that an extension would encourage more groups to use the theatre for staging productions. He said lack of facilities led to the cancellation of this year’s in-house production of Suffolk’s Got More Talent.


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Forecasting an annual increase in revenue of �10,000-�12,000, Mr Burns told the council that admissions at the cinema, were “on a par” with last year’s figure, but added: “The film business is precarious. It would only take a little blip to hit us - that’s why we need diversification to prop us up.

“This space could be used for so much more. If we expand, we will continue to grow - if we don’t, I predict a difficult time ahead.”

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A loan used to buy a digital 3D projector in 2010 is still being paid off in instalments through the theatre’s support club. Councillor Colin Ginger was uncomfortable with the idea of another outstanding loan and said he resented selling off the car park.

Mr Burns said the annual pantomime would continue to be staged at the theatre regardless of whether funds can be obtained and permission granted for the extension.

A formal planning application will be submitted in due course. Separate business plans will be made for both funding options.

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