Stowmarket Regal Theatre gets £2.5m funding boost

Stowmarket Regal Theatre Image copyright Stowmarket Town Council
Image caption The Regal's existing 200-seat auditorium hosts cinema screenings and theatre by local amateurs and touring productions

About £2.5m of council money is to be released towards a theatre to provide two new cinema screens, creating up to 20 jobs.

Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet members voted to spend £1.56m on the Regal in Stowmarket, with a further £1m loaned to its owner, Stowmarket Town Council, for the project.

The 200-seat auditorium would have 87 and 57-seat cinema screens added.

Work could begin in early 2019, if planning permission is granted.

Image caption The Regal opened on Ipswich Street in 1936 and it has only been closed for about six months following a fire in autumn 2009

The venue, which was built in 1936, has about 63,000 visits a year.

The owner projects that could rise to 114,800 visits, and create between 10 and 20 jobs at the completed venue.

Mid Suffolk's Conservative leader, Nick Gowrley, said: "The Regal has been at the heart of Stowmarket for a long time, not only thanks to its cinema screens but due to its hard work with community theatre groups, dementia-friendly screenings and hosting touring performances from across the country.

"However, this funding is not just about the Regal - it is about investing in the future of Stowmarket by increasing visitor spending in our town by up to £1m a year and creating a score of new jobs."

Designs, including a rearranged layout of the neighbouring Ipswich Street car park, need to be completed and planning permission granted before any work takes place.

The venue survived a threat of closure in 2005, when questionnaires were sent to people in the town asking them if they wanted to keep subsidising it through council tax.

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