Decision day for the choice of site for Chester’s multi-million pound state-of-the-art theatre will be October 13.
The long-awaited ruling will fall to all 75 members of Cheshire West and Chester Council, voting on a recommendation from the Executive made eight days earlier. Chief Executive Steve Robinson revealed today (Wednesday) that the iconic Art Deco building in Upper Northgate Street was now in public ownership.
Said Mr Robinson: "I am delighted to confirm that the Council has completed the £2.6m purchase of the former cinema from the Barnsley-based owners, Brook Group. Recently, Members of the Council voted unanimously in favour of securing this very important building - a decision very strongly backed by members of the Chester public.“We can now ensure that whatever decision is taken on the theatre site that the Odeon will continue to play an important role in the economic and social life of the city centre."
Recently granted listed building consent, the Odeon's prominent location on the boundary between the city's main shopping core and leisure area gives it a strategic importance in the future development of Chester.
The Odeon and Little Roodee were selected as the two preferred sites for the city's cultural flagship theatre after detailed examination of alternatives throughout the city.
Councillor Stuart Parker, Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, said: "While feasibility studies are still continuing, we can now proceed knowing that both preferred sites are in Council ownership."
The Council has also promised to give consideration to a third set of plans submitted recently by former Mayor Jim Latham and his Chester in Concert Group for a theatre behind the main library. Added Councillor Parker: "It has been something of a long journey but I am sure the people of Chester will appreciate the careful process we are following to deliver a first-class performance venue. Increasing our cultural offer is, of course, a vital part in creating our vision for Chester as an international visitor centre. We will take a major step forward on October 13."
A new petition has been launched on the CWAC website, click here to sign this e-petition and let the Council know that the Odeon site is the public choice.
The long-awaited Feasibility Study, commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council, on the development of a new Theatre in Chester has finally been published. Click here to view.
The Study has identified two possible sites for a new Theatre:-
The Odeon building
The Little Roodee Car Park.
We believe the Odeon site is the best option as it can accommodate a 800 seat main auditorium, a 200 seat studio theatre and a 2 or 3 screen cinema. The Odeon is located in the heart of the city and the cost of acquiring and refurbishing the building would be far lower than the cost of a new-build on the riverside car park. Chester needs a city centre cinema as well as a theatre and the proposal for the Little Roodee does NOT include a cinema!
The Odeon Action Group is calling on Cheshire West and Chester Council to fully consult local people before taking a final decision. The Executive Summary of the Feasibility Report is available to view click here.
"I grew up in the cinema of London. The Odeon Stockwell was where I'd find my heroes on screen - Stewart Granger in particular. When I was sent to join my mother in Chester during the height of the London Blitz, I continued my romance with cinema and Hollywood at the Chester Odeon.
"I love cinemas, particularly the wonderful art-deco Odeons. To think that the one in Chester might forever be lost to a nightclub or other such venue saddens me greatly.
"I wholeheartedly lend my support to the campaign to save it."
Sir Roger Moore KBE
Wednesday 12th March 2008
We would like to draw your attention to the fact that Brook Leisure has submitted a planning application and an application for Listed Building Consent to Chester City Council for the demolition of part of the rear of the Odeon building and the construction of a three-storey extension on land that is presently used for car-parking.
This is a piecemeal application that gives no indication as to the future use of the cinema building. The application is for building works only and does not indicate any change of use of the building. A proposal for a change of use would require a separate planning application. From the submitted plans, there appears to be no clear linkage between the proposed extension and the existing building. The proposal also appears to obliterate the right-of-way from Hunter Street to the rear of Folliott House and properties on King Street.
You can view the plans at the Council offices at the Forum (2nd Floor) ref: 08/00176 - 75 or view on-line via the Chester City Council website.
If you would like to send in your comments to Chester City Council, you should address them to Nial Casselden, Senior Planning Officer, to reach the Planning Department by Good Friday.
Christine Russell MP
Dr Peter Bingham
- all on behalf of the Odeon Action Group.
3.45pm, Tuesday 15th January 2008
You may have read in the local press that the Brook Group submitted a planning application for the Odeon building. The proposals were to include a single-screen cinema within a mixed development project. The application was for a nightclub with space left at the rear of the premises for a single-screen cinema. No information was provided to indicate who would operate this cinema. This application was withdrawn within a matter of days by the Brook Group.
The Odeon Action Group is firmly of the opinion that Chester already has an abundance of bars and restaurants. The city has lost its theatre, a concert hall remains a pipedream and, if the rumours are true, the proposed Performing Arts Centre may be dropped from the Northgate Development. It is therefore absolutely paramount that the city council throws its weight behind the campaign to re-open the Odeon as a multi-purpose arts venue, including a minimum of two cinema screens.
The aim is to secure the re-establishment of a cinema and associated facilities in the heart of the historic centre of Chester.
The campaign group believes that this facility is vital in contributing to the social, educational, cultural, and economic well being of Chester: its residents and its visitors.
The group also believes that cinema is vital to the marketing of Chester as a �must see� tourist destination, and that the lack of such a facility will weaken Chester�s attractiveness, in comparison to other historic cities such as York, and damage its economic vitality.
It also believes that other cities have demonstrated that the independent cinema operator can provide an economically viable service that satisfies all of the above statements and criteria.
In the short term: to secure a cinema in the Chester Odeon building, as this represents the best opportunity to re-establish cinema facilities, quickly, in the city centre.
Such a development could form part of a part of a mixed-use development that could combine other facilities such as caf�, bar, retail, exhibition space, etc., etc.
The campaign group is a non-party political grouping that represents a wide variety of local interests including:
Residents with a particular interest in film or with specific film expertise to offer City centre businesses
Local voluntary groups with an interest in the city centre
Related special interest clubs and societies such as Chester Film Society.
The group will seek to influence:
Chester City Council, Cheshire County Council, and other key decision makers
Developers and major property owners
Independent cinema operators who may not be aware that Chester provides a good opportunity for investment.
The group recognises that planning a cinema operation can only be achieved by effective partnership between the developer, local authority, film operator, and the local community.
We feel as strongly as Christine regarding the loss of Chester's only city centre cinema. Please watch the original video appeal which launched this campaign.