Jersey

Jersey's Freedom Church to buy former Odeon cinema in St Helier

The former Odeon cinema in St Helier
Image caption The former cinema in Bath Street was built 60 years ago but since closing had fallen into disrepair

A Christian group in Jersey is set to buy a former cinema to turn it into a community centre.

The former Odeon cinema, on the corner of Bath Street, in St Helier, has fallen into disrepair since it shut three years ago.

Its owner C Le Masurier Limited had wanted to demolish it to build shops and flats but planning restrictions meant the building had to remain.

The Freedom Church is now planning to buy the 60-year-old cinema for £1m.

In January 2011, Jersey planning minister Senator Freddie Cohen ruled that the cinema's historical and architectural significance meant it could not be demolished despite the plans.

Pastor Tim Bond, a spokesman for the church, said: "Our vision is to re-generate and transform the landmark building that will be known as Freedom Centre, returning it into a facility for use by our island community.

"It will once again become a hive of activity, with thousands of people coming through the doors every week... where people can gather and connect."

'Exhausting attempts'

The Freedom Church owns the Immanuel Christian Centre in St Helier's Victoria Street but because of the size of the congregation it has been using Hautlieu School for its Sunday services.

Ben Ludlam, from C Le Masurier Limited, said: "Over many years we have made every effort to do something with the building, exhausting numerous attempts to identify a viable economic use."

He said the company was delighted that the Freedom Church had come forward with a use for the building that would benefit the entire community.

Mr Ludlam added: "Le Masurier remains fully committed to substantially regenerating the area to the south of Freedom Centre and are actively engaging with the Environment Minister and the Planning Department in this respect."

The sale is scheduled to be completed in court on Friday.

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