Cinema plan unveiled for town theatre as council looks to maximise venue

Plans to add a cinema facility to King's Lynn Corn Exchange have been unveiled. Picture; Angela Shar

Plans to add a cinema facility to King's Lynn Corn Exchange have been unveiled. Picture; Angela Sharpe - Credit: Angela Sharpe

One of the region's entertainment venues could be turning to the big screen in a bid to diversify its offerings in an investment which could cost £1m.

Councillors are to explore the possibility of converting a seldom-used bar and foyer area in the King's Lynn Corn Exchange into a cinema facility.

At a meeting of West Norfolk and King's Lynn Borough Council's regeneration committee next week, officers will give a presentation floating the idea, which could see the space used as either a one or two screen cinema.

Chris Banfield, the council's executive director for leisure, said the proposals had evolved from studies into the future of the town's guildhall.

He said: 'We originally looked at this as an option for the guildhall, but with this now going in a different direction through a private investor, the idea of the corn exchange came along.

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'In 2011, we had looked into the possibility of converting the upstairs into a small theatre, which did not happen, however, this seems a sensible idea.'

Members will see proposals for two separate plans for the space - either one auditorium seating 112 people, or two smaller screens with space for 60 seats. Mr Banfield said the latter would cost around £1m to build, but would then bring in some £200,000 per year.

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He added: 'In recent years there has been a shift back to town centres in the cinema world, while councils are also having to look at options beyond retail for them.'

Following the presentation on Tuesday, the proposals will go before cabinet in November.

Should they approve the scheme, officers will press ahead with specific planning for the facility, including sound-proofing, disabled access and seeking permission to alter the listed building.

Mr Banfield added the hope was that building work could begin in early 2020 and open in spring of that year.

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