Proposal to improve the Regal Theatre in Stowmarket gets cash backing of around £300,000

The Regal Theatre in Stowmarket

The Regal Theatre in Stowmarket - Credit: Archant

Around £300,000 is due to be set aside towards upgrading a popular cinema and increasing its capacity by 25%.

Part of the money will be pumped into the Regal Theatre in Stowmarket to meet the rising demands of its customers.

Stowmarket Town Council, which runs the cinema, has set aside around £166,000 for the project, with a further £136,000 due to be available in the future if needed. The exact cost of the project is unknown but will become clearer when a special committee begins meeting in the coming weeks.

The plans include the cinema’s capacity rising to around 250 – with the red brick front of the building being modernised.

Keith Scarff, town councillor, said at Wednesday’s council meeting that it would be the town’s biggest project for the next few years.

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David Whybrow, councillor, also welcomed the proposals. He said: “I’m delighted at last to see the project come forward, in a way it’s been an aspiration for members and officers for many years.

“At the end of the day if you are not reinvesting and upping the ante of your offer then you are going backwards. It’s a really positive thing for the town, the town council and the Regal itself.”

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Last year it was reported the building work, which would close the theatre either partially or fully for at least eight weeks, would begin in 2015.

But now David Marsh, events and theatre manager, has said the cinema has to take advantage of what could be a lucrative year.

“Next year could be the biggest year for cinema in 40 years with the new James Bond film, a new Star Wars film and Marvel’s Avengers blockbuster,” he said.

“In terms of how much we stay open or close, it’s going to be a few weeks, even if we stay open the majority of the time, which would reduce the number of performances.

“We are going to have to decide what to do, it’s really more business-led, that’s why we have put it over to the next year, 2016.”

He added that he expects building work to have been finished by spring 2016.

David Blackburn, town clerk, said the council planned to get feedback from residents about the design proposals, which are still at an early stage. He said: “This is a great deal for us and the town and we have to get it right.”

One part of the project would be to improve the sound proofing of the cinema’s walls.

In 2013, 57,000 visited the Regal – with Mr Marsh expecting that number to see a small increase this year.

The project’s committee consists of councillors Barry Salmon, Lesley Mayes, Nick Gowrley, Nigel Rozier and Mr Whybrow.

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