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Next step in new Wellington cinema bid

By Dominic Robertson | Wellington | Entertainment | Published:

A new cinema for Wellington has moved a step closer after a vital planning hurdle was cleared.

The former HSBC building in Wellington

The team behind plans to create a new cinema in the town's former HSBC building has secured consent for change of use under planning rules.

Fiona Hunter, a director of Clifton Community Arts Centre, said they were delighted at the latest step in their plans.

She said: "We are very, very pleased and excited that the change of use has been given.

"Now we can go ahead because that is the final stage before we can go ahead and agree the lease."

A statement from the group said: "We are pleased to confirm that on Friday, we received planning approval for a change of use on the HSBC building so that we can use the building as a community arts centre.

"This satisfies the last precondition to securing a lease on the building.  A draft lease has already been prepared which we consider only requires minor amendments and we hope to have a final signed lease in place very shortly."

Under the plans the building would be converted to include a cafe and a cinema, which could seat 80 people, on the ground floor.

The group had initially wanted to use the former Clifton Cinema

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Ms Hunter said she hoped the group would have a foyer in place to talk to residents at the Wellington Summer Fair.

The proposals for the building include creating rooms upstairs which could be used as exhibition space.

Ms Hunter said: "It is a really exciting time.

"It is daunting to think about what we are going to do now but there is so much interest and interest from people for using the rooms above. There will be a lot of support for us."

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Ms Hunter said that funding is in place for the first stage of the project and they would be looking to raise more through grant funding and donations to create the cinema.

If the project is successful, the Station Road building will be transformed to include an 80-seat VIP-style cinema with a cafe on the ground floor, as well as an exhibition space for artists to showcase their work on the upper floors.

In future the project could be expanded to include a further performance space upstairs.

The group was originally set up to establish a community cinema in the Clifton building in Wellington, but after that project was unsuccessful it has turned its attention to the former bank on Station Road.

The group is still interested in the future preservation of the Clifton and are monitoring its use.

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