Spotlight on plans for new cultural centre in Chester

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Chester First)

FRESH details of a new theatre, library and cinema complex – including an image of how the £37.05m development could look – are to go on show.

The touring exhibition is part of an engagement exercise with residents across the borough on plans to transform the former Odeon cinema on Northgate Street, Chester, into a vibrant cultural centre.

It will reveal the most detailed information yet about the project to deliver the centre – known as RE:NEW – being led by Cheshire West and Chester Council in partnership with Chester Performs.

People will be encouraged to leave feedback to help finalise the proposals ahead of a planning application,  expected to be submitted in the summer.

Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and economy, said: “This exhibition will feature the most comprehensive detail about RE:NEW we have shared with our residents to date.

“There will be up-to-date images – including a stunning new artist’s impression of the building’s exterior – and information boards so people can find out all about this exciting project, and importantly, give us their views.”

Visitors to the exhibition will discover how the centre will blend theatre, music, dance, literature and cinema in what is expected to be a nationally-celebrated fusion of a library and performing arts space.

They can find out how the annual public programme will encourage communities across the borough to enjoy literature and the arts, as well as developing creative industries in the region.

The exhibition will explore the history of the Grade II-listed Odeon building – featuring photographs from its 1936 opening as a 1,600-seat ‘super cinema’ – and explain how its character will be preserved and enhanced in the design of the cultural centre.

It will also focus on how the new centre will form the first part of a wider vision for the historic Northgate quarter, set to be transformed as part of a council-led £300m retail and leisure masterplan.

Details of the cultural centre construction – due to commence in spring 2015 – will feature in the exhibition.

Cllr Louise Gittins, shadow executive member for culture and economy, said: “This will be a cultural centre for everyone in Cheshire West, not just Chester. Indeed, a recent study found almost one third of its visitors will come from outside the city.

“I would encourage everyone in the borough who enjoys the performing arts or literature to visit the exhibition, find out all about the plans and tell us what they think.”

See full story in the Chester Leader

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