Ipswich: Will the sale of the Odeon lead to its redevelopment?
PUBLISHED: 18:14 11 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:36 12 February 2014
After the former Odeon cinema at the Major’s Corner was sold for £530,000 yesterday, civic leaders have called for it to be brought back to life.
The 1991-built cinema was sold at a Savills auction yesterday. It had been given a guide price of £500,000. The identity of the buyer has not yet been revealed.
And there has been no immediate word on the buyer of the building, or on the future plans for it.
Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said he hoped the sale of the building would lead to its redevelopment – the Odeon closed in 2005.
He said: “The hope is that someone who has paid a substantial sum for the site will have a clear view of how they want to develop it – it’s been empty for far too long.”
Mr Ellesmere was not aware of any approaches to the council to ask about possible future uses of the building.
However he said officials at the borough would be delighted to speak to the new owners about possible future uses and would be contacting Savills as soon as possible to try discuss its future.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the Odeon site was vital to the regeneration of that part of the town centre.
He said: “I would have liked to see the borough buy it and do something innovative alongside the Regent – but whoever has it needs to get on with doing something.”
And he admitted the building had strong personal memories for him: “It’s where I went on my first date!”
Mr Ellesmere said the borough had considered bidding for the building, but had not been able to put together a potential partnership deal before the auction took place.
It was built for the Odeon chain as part of a complex deal that saw the council take over the Regent and NCP take over the borough’s Cox Lane car park.
When built, it had five cinema screens – three on the ground floor and two above.
When the building went on the market last year Chris Moody from Savills said this number had now been reduced to four after a wall between two was removed, but apart from that the building was basically sound although the seats had been removed.
There could be a number of potential uses for the building, although it seems unlikely to become a cinema again.
Odeon pulled out because it was unable to compete with the 11-screen Cineworld in Cardinal Park. Now Vue cinemas is due to convert part of the Buttermarket centre into a nine-screen cinema.
In its planning guidance for the site, the borough suggests it could be used in conjunction with the neighbouring Regent Theatre.
Mr Moody has said it might be suitable for other entertainment uses.
A proposal a few years ago to turn it into a family restaurant, a sports bar and a nightclub attracted objections from the police who were concerned about another club opening on the edge of the town centre.