Council to make decision on Odeon purchase

Cheshire West & Chester Council said it will decide next week on whether to buy Chester's Odeon cinema.

The council said a decision will be taken next Thursday 28 July in the private section of a full council meeting at Wyvern House in Winsford.

The development follows a meeting between the Odeon's Barnsley-based owners, Brook Group, Cheshire West & Chester chief executive Steve Robinson and the council's head of facilities and asset management, Noel O'Neill.

Mike Jones, council leader, said: "A price for the property has been put before us, and Members now need to decide whether this represents good value for money in the present difficult financial environment."

Members will consider a full report on the situation from director of resources Julie Gill.

The art deco building in Northgate Street, which was recently granted listed planning consent, is one of two preferred sites for Chester's proposed theatre, but no decision on a location has yet been made.

A four-month feasibility study named the Little Roodee as the other potential site for the city's flagship building for cultural activities.

Jones added: "The Odeon enjoys a prominent location next to the main civic space on the boundary between the main shopping core and leisure area. Consequently, it makes good sense that it should fall within council ownership."

The council said the 75 council members will be asked to consider the issue in private because of the regulations governing commercial confidentiality.

Opposition leader Cllr Derek Bateman welcomed the full council debate on the proposed purchase of the empty building.

Bateman said: "This represents a pivotal moment for Chester. Because of the importance of this decision, I agree it is right and proper for all members of the council to have full knowledge and involvement."

Steve Robinson, chief executive of Cheshire West & Chester, added: "Any decision made by members to purchase the Odeon will be subject to full due diligence before any purchase is completed."

Hunter Street, a subsidiary of Brook Group, had a planning application refused, which requested a change of use at the former cinema building to seven units including cinema/theatre/performance space, cafe, retail and restaurant.

Brook Group declined to comment when contacted by Place.

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