A TUSSLE is developing between leisure operators and arts lovers over the future of Chester’s former Odeon cinema.
Owners the Brook Group have just submitted plans for a nightclub, piano bar, restaurant, a cinema and café.
But a Facebook site has been set up by James Millar, Aaron Williams and Ciarain ‘Ronny’ O’Hagan, with a staggering 3,500 supporters, which claims to have possible funding to turn the building into a music, media and arts centre including a cinema.
The Picture House Facebook site says, by day, two of the original screens would be used for film festivals, art exhibitions, theatre productions, mainstream and world cinema showings.
By night, one floor would be available for alternative music from reggae and jungle to opera and classical while the main floor would host music and comedy events with local and big name acts.
Brook say they haven’t heard of the group who claim to be meeting with the council and themselves over the next few weeks.
Managing director Gary Hunt said a potential buyer would need more than £2m to buy the building: “Everything has got a price, so yes, we would sell but we have just submitted a planning application.”
Mr Hunt hoped his £8m scheme will ready in 2010. “Given everything else has collapsed in Chester I would think people would welcome something happening rather than nothing,” he added.
City MP Christine Russell wants to persuade Cheshire West and Chester Council to buy the building from Brook and convert it into a multi-purpose arts centre. She attacked Brook’s earlier plans for a one-screen cinema, saying it was not viable.