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Vue abandons Ipswich Buttermarket cinema plan

Artists impression of new cinema complex at Ipswich Buttermarket Image copyright Cornerstone
Image caption The Vue cinema would have been built in retail units on the top floor of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre

A national cinema chain has abandoned plans to convert part of a shopping centre into a multiplex.

Vue was granted planning permission in 2012 to open a nine-screen venue in the Buttermarket in Ipswich.

Vue confirmed it would not be proceeding with the plan, but did not give a reason why.

Carol Jones, Ipswich Borough Council's member for economic development, said: "I'm really disappointed, but not wholly surprised."

Image copyright cornerstone
Image caption The cinema plan also included a proposal to open restaurants on the top floor of the shopping centre

Vue was bought by a Canadian firm for £935m in 2013, and last month it pulled out of plans to convert Brighton's Hippodrome into a cinema.

'Frightened'

Ms Jones said: "The conversion of the [Ipswich] building was really extensive and I think they just think 'that looks expensive - we'll just try a cheaper option'.

"These are private businesses who make decisions which are not always necessarily best for a town, but what is best for their profit margins.

"It's possibly something to do with the Odeon being sold to what we understand is a small cinema chain."

Image caption The former Odeon cinema on St Helen's Street has been unused since it closed ten years ago

The Ipswich Odeon building, which has been empty for 10 years, was auctioned for £536,000 last year.

John Norman, chairman of the Ipswich Society, said: "Nobody seems to know anything about the developer who bought it, but it was going so cheaply at auction that it was probably bought speculatively with not much thought to its future use.

"The sale, though, has probably frightened Vue into not pressing ahead with the development of its cinema in the Buttermarket."

The Land Registry confirmed the Odeon's registered owner is the Isle of Man-based Ipswich Cinema 2 Limited and "care of" the Empire Studio, The Empire, Leicester Square in London.

The Empire group has not responded to the BBC's requests for information.

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