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'If they want it, they can have it': bid to set up new town cinema

PUBLISHED: 17:04 29 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:54 02 December 2019

The former North Walsham Town Council office in New Road, earmarked for a wetherspoons pub, is the prefferd site for the cinema. Picture: GOOGLE STREETVIEW

The former North Walsham Town Council office in New Road, earmarked for a wetherspoons pub, is the prefferd site for the cinema. Picture: GOOGLE STREETVIEW

Archant

Plans to open a new cinema in a north Norfolk town have resurfaced as uncertainty continues over a possible Wetherspoons pub.

A sign calling for a Wetherspoon pub in North Walsham. Picture: Barry HoldenA sign calling for a Wetherspoon pub in North Walsham. Picture: Barry Holden

Robert Scammell, 56, who runs Cafe Kitale in the town, has been working with developers to help put a bid together for the potential cinema.

The proposed site for the development is the car park of Cedar House, the former town council offices, which is earmarked for a Wetherspoons pub.

Mr Scammell has been working with Bill Chew, a chartered architect and cinema designer, on the project for more than one year.

The businessman said: "I have been in contact will Bill for one year in regards to the cinema in North Walsham.

Robert Scammell underneath North Walsham's clock tower. Picture: RICHARD BATSONRobert Scammell underneath North Walsham's clock tower. Picture: RICHARD BATSON

"The site that we are looking at was earmarked for a Wetherspoons, but no contracts have been signed since it was first put aside five years ago.

"Because the site is owned by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) we have to wait until they decide what they would like to do with the site."

A contract for Wetherspoons to pursue the purchase of the site was agreed in 2016, but the plans were delayed over a right-of-way dispute.

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Architect Mr Chew has also been working on another project in Wymondham, which was given the go-ahead by South Norfolk Council last week.

The Wymondham project will see a boutique cinema at the Old Goods Shed, next to the railway station, opening in 2020.

How one of the auditoriums at the new cinema could look. Pic: BCA Ltd/Whitworth.How one of the auditoriums at the new cinema could look. Pic: BCA Ltd/Whitworth.

Mr Scammell said: "It [the cinema] would bring in people from other areas, create jobs and give North Walsham a financial boost. Investment in our town is what matters.

"I'm delighted that North Walsham has recently had a lot of funding and work put into it. We are the biggest town in the district and we were overlooked for a long time.

"The cinema would provide a real entertainment area not just for locals, but for people in other areas too.

"If the council want it, they can have it. If plans went ahead it could be open by the end of 2020."

North Walsham does already have The Atrium, which shows a handful of older films each month.

A spokesperson from NNDC said: "The Council is reviewing all options for the future of the site. We are looking into the possibilities for grant assistance to help restore the building and encourage development in the local community that would facilitate with the revitalisation of the historic town centre.

"These things take time and it is too early to say when a final decision will be made."

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