PLANNING permission has been refused for a cultural and entertainment venue at Chester's iconic grade two listed Odeon cinema.

The application, considered by councillors at a meeting in Winsford, proposed the landmark vacant cinema should be used for retail, café, restaurant, pub/bar and cinema/theatre/performance purposes.

It was put forward by South Yorkshire based Hunter Street Ltd.

Almost three-quarters of the building would be used for food and drink, including a late night bar, a council report stated.

There would be space for a 466 seat theatre, performance space or cinema.

The council had 55 objections from individuals and five letters of support with objections also coming in from the Cinema Theatre Trust, Chester Civic Trust, Chester Communities Together, the Cinema Theatre Association, the Odeon Action Group, Cheshire Police and the Theatres Trust.

The Odeon Action Group insists the performance or cinema space ‘has no merit and would not operate viably’.

The report argued that with almost three quarters of the floorspace intended for food and drink, this would be ‘out of character’ with the locality.

Hunter Street’s chief executive Jason Brook told councillors the report gave ‘an entirely false impression of our intentions in Chester’.

After being advised he should restrict his comments to the merits of the application, Mr Brook said the development could create up to 150 jobs and involve £6m of investment.

His agents argue the space for the performance area, cafe and restaurant use has increased and that for bars has reduced.

They describe the conversion as a cultural building and entertainment venue.