Back to the drawing board for old cinema

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THE future of Bexhill’s historic cinema hangs in the balance as plans to demolish and redevelop the building were suddenly withdrawn this week.

Applicant Ormiston Trust was applying for planning permission to build a retail unit on the ground floor with 14 flats above.

This was due before Rother District Council’s planning meeting yesterday morning but was removed from the agenda,

This is so that a “slightly revised scheme” can be drawn up and resubmitted, according to Gino Forte of Maltby’s, the letting agent.

He said: “We were very encouraged by the council’s reaction to the scheme. We have withdrawn the application at this time and are working closely with the council to address the minor alterations needed to obtain an approval.”

On Thursday morning however, former manager Andrew Crotty said he was encouraged by the withdrawal and saw this as positive for campaigners.

He said he hoped people in Bexhill would continue to make their feelings known on the future of the building. He said personally he hoped it would be a cinema and entertainment centre appealing to a wide range of ages, with live music for a younger audience and perhaps bingo for an older one - the success of which might also subsidise the running of the cinema.

Meanwhile support continues to grow and on Monday campaigners met to discuss their way forward.

As a result George Yerby of Friends of Bexhill Cinema wrote to RDC to say: “The present building, with its wonderful facade, is one of the finest features of Bexhill and must be preserved.

“The proposed development of flats is regarded as inappropriate and another retail outlet is neither welcome nor required.”

He told the Observer support had come in from outside sources - the Cinema Theatre Association has voiced its objection to plans, and the actress Alison Steadman has added her voice, telling George: “Please include me as ‘a friend’. We need our cinemas!”