Cinema site future uncertain again

NOT AGAIN!The future of the former Odeon cinema in Ipswich hangs in the balance yet again after it emerged today that it is up for sale.The building has been the subject of much debate in the town over the last few years as despite various takeovers and planning applications, it has remained shut since its original closure in 2005.

NOT AGAIN!

The future of the former Odeon cinema in Ipswich hangs in the balance yet again after it emerged today that it is up for sale.

The building has been the subject of much debate in the town over the last few years as despite various takeovers and planning applications, it has remained shut since its original closure in 2005.

Ambitious proposals released last year to turn the building, considered by many to be a blot on the landscape, into a major new leisure complex, have now been thrown out after the new developers decided to put it up for sale.

The company that was due to undertake the work, Premier Leisure (Suffolk), was bought earlier this year by London-based financiers Close Ventures.

In March, Close Ventures, which specialises in providing funds for small to medium-sized leisure ventures, invested £4.1million on Premier Leisure (Suffolk), whose main asset is the Odeon site and building.

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Following the investment, it was hoped the conversion of the site in St Helen's Street, which would have consisted of ten-pin bowling lanes, a sports bar, two restaurants, a coffee shop, and a nightclub, would be completed by November this year.

Today, Robert Whitby-Smith from Close Ventures said: “At the end of August we were reviewing our options. We have decided to sell due to a change in investment policy.

“We are now looking at other sites around the UK.”

Savills, the agent charged with selling the site, are accepting sealed offers, which must be received by November 27.

Although no offers have been received yet, Savills is expecting a lot of interest, given the location of the site. The building boasts five cinema screens, a bar, shop, plus full planning permission for a change of use from cinema to a nightclub/leisure mix.

Richard Atkins, Ipswich Borough councillor for planning and economic development, said: “It is an unfortunate fact of life that this happens with developments.

“Everyone in Ipswich looks forward to the day when it comes back into use.

“It is quite a key location for a leisure venue and will be close to the new university. I hope it will not take too long to find a new owner.”

What do you think about the old Odeon building being up for sale again? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

1991: New Odeon cinema opens. It was built for Rank cinemas by the borough as part of the deal which saw the council take over the Regent.

2005: Odeon closes in August. Building bought by local company, Colwyn Developments.

2006: Building bought by Premier Leisure (Suffolk). Proposals to turn Odeon into leisure centre revealed.

March, 2007: Premier Leisure (Suffolk) bought by Close Ventures.

August, 2007: Plans for Odeon being reassessed.

October, 2007: Odeon up for sale again.

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