Sudbury: Cinema bid gathers pace

The Gainsborough Cinema decorated for the 1935 Silver Jubilee.

The Gainsborough Cinema decorated for the 1935 Silver Jubilee. - Credit: Archant

The last cinema in Sudbury closed more than 30 years ago, but a push by local councillors could see a new three-screen complex built in the town.

Simon Barrett

Simon Barrett - Credit: Archant

Babergh District Council confirmed that at least one cinema operator is interested in building on land in Hamilton Road as part of a major redevelopment of the area.

Curzon Cinemas is believed to be one of those in talks with the local authority, although neither Babergh nor the company would confirm this.

At one time, Sudbury had two picture houses – the County Cinema on Market Hill and the Gainsborough Cinema in East Street, which is now a nightclub.

Chairman of Sudbury Pilot Steering Group, Simon Barrett and vice-chairman Nigel Bennett, who are behind the drive to bring the flicks back to town, believe there is enough demand to sustain a three-screen cinema.

Mr Barrett said: “We have done our research and Sudbury people would definitely love to see a cinema return to the town.

“Two developers are interested in the site and both have their own contracts with cinema companies. We believe there are enough interested people in Sudbury and the surrounding villages to make this complex sustainable.”

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Babergh’s corporate manager Dave Benham said the council had an adopted development brief for the Hamilton Road area, and the options for the site had been market tested to find out what would be viable.

He added: “The study concluded the best option would be a leisure led scheme, primarily cinema, with restaurants and some retail, and this met with aspirations of the local community.

“This scheme has generated interest from more than one developer and there is at least one cinema operator interested.

“Babergh is now in the process of purchasing one property, which recently came on the market, in order to pave the way for this development.”

There is a great deal of nostalgia for the town’s historic cinemas and according to Sudbury Museum Trust, many local people still remember the Saturday morning children’s shows at the County Cinema, which cost 6d for a cartoon, a serial and a Western.

Sudbury mayor Adrian Osborne said the town council had also received feedback from younger residents who were keen to see a cinema built on the site.

“It’s definitely what young people want, and at the moment, they have to travel to Bury to go to the cinema,” he said. “It would provide a real boost to Sudbury’s night-time economy and could help to bring a bit of much needed footfall through the town.”

Mr Osborne said the area – which has been earmarked for renovation for more than a decade – needed to be developed in a “structured way”, including changes to the road network. But he added: “I am confident that under the steering group we will progress with the work in this area that Sudbury desperately needs.”