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Part of the former cinema in High Street, Sittingbourne, is being offered for lease

11 March 2014
by Hayley Robinson

Could new life be breathed into a disused town building?

A nine-year lease is being offered for the upper floor area of the old cinema in Sittingbourne High Street.

It is being marketed by letting agent Hawkesford James, which is based in West Street, at a cost of £12,300 per annum.

How the premises used to look when it was an Odeon cinema

How the premises used to look when it was an Odeon cinema

Designed by architect FC Mitchell for the AE Abrahams chain, it was taken over by the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd and opened as the Odeon on January 4, 1937.
Seating was provided with 1,077 in the stalls and 516 in the circle.

The business was eventually sold to Classic Cinemas in December 1967 and the venue re-named Vogue Cinema before closing the following year and converting into a bingo club.

Three years later, a 111-seat classic cinema opened in what had formerly been the restaurant area and in 1972 a 300-seat screen opened in the former circle. The stalls remained in use as a gambling hall.

Mecca Leisure went on to purchase the building and its club still operates in the downstairs area today.

The cinemas were leased to the Cannon Group before being taken over by the Picturedrome Theatres Limited in 1997 and eventually Reeltime Cinemas in 2000.

Stephen Cross application to set up a nightclub in the building was turned down

Stephen Cross's application to set up a nightclub in the building was turned down

It applied for planning permission to convert the rooms into church use in November 2006.
By then the screen in the former restaurant was closed, with the remaining screen in the former circle continuing, but the proposal was refused by Swale council.

Then in January 2008, the company put forward a proposal to convert the section it leased into community use but it wasn't to be and the venue closed 13 months later due to dwindling audience numbers.

An application for a £1.5m nightclub conversion was sought in 2010 by businessman Stephen Cross, but despite an officer’s recommendations to approve it, the local authority’s planning committee refused to grant change of use.

The appeal was subsequently withdrawn when the planning inspector indicated it should go to public inquiry.

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