New extension design at Leiston Film Theatre follows purchase of extra land

New designs are to be drawn up to improve a highly-successful theatre and cinema in east Suffolk.

Plans have been on the table before for the Leiston Film Theatre but so far the projected costs have not made the scheme possible.

Now Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council, which runs the venue, has agreed to try again – and to draw up fresh proposals and to include an extra piece of land at the rear of the venue, which it has agreed to buy for £12,500.

Councillors also agreed to set aside £3,000 to pay for an architect’s fees and a planning application.

Town clerk John Rayner said there had been a series of negotiations with the landowner for the plot of land behind High Street and the final deal would be £12,500.

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He said this would enable the council to look at a larger site when considering how to build the single-storey extension and the next stage would be to ask an architect to assess the area and come up with a design.

Council chairman Tony Cooper said the purchase was well worth making and the land would be of “great benefit” to the town whether it was included in the site for the film theatre extension or not.

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The aim is to provide larger backstage areas at Leiston Film Theatre and possibly also to create a new space which can be used for a variety of activities – including art exhibitions, music, classes and functions.

Although the project will be expensive, the management at the venue is convinced the project has cash-generating potential to help make it viable.

The previous scheme drawn up would have been two-storey, adding an upstairs extension at the rear of the cinema to create an open-plan studio which would provide a large single area for a range of activities to “develop and diversify” the venue.

Moveable partitions would have enabled smaller rooms to be created when needed – providing dressing rooms to separate men and women, adults and children, boys and girls, during productions.

The designer will again be asked to make sure flexibility is a priority to ease some of the backstage problems encountered during large stage productions, such as the annual panto, to make it more comfortable for peformers.

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