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Approval granted for Hope Church to adopt former Odeon cinema in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 12:29 30 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:25 30 May 2018

Former Odeon Cinema on St Margaret's Street, Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Former Odeon Cinema on St Margaret's Street, Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The former Odeon cinema in Ipswich which has laid empty for 13 years will finally get a new lease of life as planners this morning approved its conversion to a church.

Liz Harsant spoke on behalf of Hope Church, stating that it was a part of Ipswich flourishing Picture: PAUL GEATERLiz Harsant spoke on behalf of Hope Church, stating that it was a part of Ipswich flourishing Picture: PAUL GEATER

Hope Church, currently based in Fore Hamlet, has an average of 360 people attend its Sunday services, meaning its current premises were now too small.

An application for a change of use of the former cinema to a place of worship was lodged by pastor Tom Scrivens, who had negotiated to buy the building from the current owner, which also owns the Empire Cinemas chain.

Ipswich Borough Council’s planning committee met this morning where the bid was approved.

Liz Harsant, Holywells ward councillor who spoke on behalf of the church, said: “Hope Church has been in Ipswich over 25 years and played an active part in the community for much of that time.”

She added: “It is his desire [Mr Scrivens] and that of the church to see Ipswich flourish and they wish to play their part in that.”

The plans reveal that there will be a cafe at the front of the building that will be open to the public, as well as two auditoriums for congregations, separate rooms for children’s workshops and activities, office space, events, conferences and other community work such as soup kitchens.

The cinema closed in August 2005, having operated as a cinema since 1991, and has not had a use since.

An application was lodged in 2006 for multi-leisure use to create a nightclub, bowling alley and restaurants, but this never came to fruition.

The 2017 local plan had designated it for leisure use, but it was considered by planning officers that a place of worship was acceptable.

However, Colin Kreidewolf, who voted against the plan, said: “I don’t think there’s been a convincing case made for a change of use to the IP1 Action Plan we adopted last year.

“I don’t think the owners have sought out other leisure users when they purchased it in 2014 when it was used to facilitate planning permission elsewhere.”

St Margaret’s county councillor Inga Lockington raised concerns over parking, and whether churchgoers would create problems on the roads with single yellow line parking and using resident’s designated spaces.

An informative was added to the conditions of granting planning permission that urged the church to work with those attending to make sure parking was reasonable.

It is not yet clear when the move will take place, but it is understood the church is keen to begin holding services there within the next 12 months.

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