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Cinema idea for King's Lynn Corn Exchange to be set out

The King's Lynn Corn Exchange on the Tuesday Market Place.. (5042541)
The King's Lynn Corn Exchange on the Tuesday Market Place.. (5042541)

More details have been outlined about plans which could see a new cinema developed in part of Lynn's Corn Exchange.

Councillors are to explore the possibility of converting a seldom-used bar and foyer area of the Tuesday Market Place venue in a project which could cost £1 million.

At a meeting of West Norfolk Council's regeneration and development panel tonight, 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 St George'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.

“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 option would cost around £1 million to build, but would then bring in some £200,000 per year.

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.”

Ivor Rowlands, treasurer of the King’s Lynn Community Cinema Club, said: “I think the borough council officers have realised the Corn Exchange is an asset which they can make more profitable. Why wouldn’t they want to do that?

“It would see more opportunities for films to be shown and more screenings for the town.”

Following the presentation on Tuesday, the proposals are expected to go before the borough council's ruling 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.

The project is one of several investment ideas currently being explored by the council with the aim of generating additional revenue.

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