Shropshire Star

Cinema chains vying to reopen disused picture house which hasn't shown movies since 1990s

Two cinema chains are vying to bring the movies back to Oswestry as the town council backed plans to reopen a historic former picture house.

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The former Regal Cinema, Leg Street, Oswestry. Picture: Mike Sheridan/LDRS

Councillors at Oswestry Town Council last night unanimously voted to commence negotiations with owners of town’s former Regal Cinema in the wake of independent venue Kinoculture shutting its doors for good last month.

The authority will approach the building’s landlords with a view to buying the freehold – as well as drawing up alternative options for bringing a cinema back to the town – with national chains reportedly interested in running the facility.

The Leg Street venue closed to the public in the 1990s and has since been used as a department store and a charity shop, but several attempts at re-opening it as a cinema have floundered.

Now, a motion tabled by Green Party councillor Duncan Kerr could see the silver screens at the Regal rolled out for customers once more, using part of a £2million windfall receipt sat in the council coffers from the sale of the former Smithfield cattle market site.

Councillor Kerr said a cinema in the town would improve the town’s night-time economy and prevent money “flowing out of the town” and into other large regional centres such as Shrewsbury and Wrexham.

“For several years the Council has worked to re-establish a cinema in the Regal building where it would improve the night-time economy,” he said.

“The recent decision of Kinokulture to close now means there is no dedicated film venue in the town.

“Recognising that the Council still has the legacy of a windfall capital receipt and has determined that this should be used to re-vitalise the town centre economy.

“It is moved that the Council instruct the Clerk to commence negotiations with the owners of the Regal to acquire the freehold of the building so that the Council can then work with operators to re-establish it as a multiscreen cinema.”

The meeting was told that the council had previously been in discussion with two cinema chains who had kept in touch with the council about the prospect of opening a cinema in the town.

However several councillors expressed concerns that the council might be over-stretching itself with too many projects and questioned the council’s potential financial exposure over the scheme.

An amendment tabled by councillor James Owen meant the town council will also look at other options for bringing a cinema to the town – including using the existing large screen at The Centre on Oak Street, the town’s youth services building which was recently acquired from Shropshire Council.

A report will be brought back to the full town council from the town clerk with options to be discussed at a future meeting.