CHESTER'S Odeon will close down as a cinema and reopen as a city centre nightclub if talks with the local authority over refurbishment plans come to nothing.
This was the prediction of Odeon chief executive Richard Segal yesterday as the company seeks a head to head discussion with Chester City Council chiefs over the proposed revamp which was rejected by planners last month.
Mr Segal stressed Odeon itself had no intention of turning the Northgate Street listed building into a night club but he warned this was undoubtedly what the end result would be if the two sides could not reach a compromise.
He said: 'If we are denied the opportunity to carry out this refurbishment, it is inevitable that at some time in the future, it will close as a cinema.
'Based on letters we have received over a number of years, we know there is a demand to transform the building into a nightclub which would be done, not by Odeon, but by another developer who would acquire the property.
'I stress Odeon has no plans whatsoever to turn the cinema into a nightclub.'
However, Mr Segal is confident a meeting will take place with the city council within the next couple of weeks when there will be an opportunity for both sides to iron out their differences.
This was confirmed by the city council's head of development, Andy Farrall, who said there were two main areas of disagreement between the authority and the Odeon.
'The first concerns a proposed canopy which we do not feel is sensitive to the building but we are certain we can work with the Odeon architects to come up with a solution,' said Mr Farrall.
'The other key issue is the proposal to remove the red neon sign at the top of the building and put on the new corporate logo.
'We understand why they want to do this but this is one of the most important historic landmarks in Chester along with the Cathedral towers and the Town Hall spire.'
Responding to the possibility of a nightclub opening in the Odeon building, Mr Farrall said: 'The city council would be very upset at that.
'The Odeon is the last cinema in the city centre.'