New cinema planned for Royston

CINEMA could return to Royston after an absence of more than a decade. A community cinema, which would cost over �100,000 to install, could be in place by 2011, with Royston town hall having been identified as the most likely site. The cinema development

CINEMA could return to Royston after an absence of more than a decade.

A community cinema, which would cost over �100,000 to install, could be in place by 2011, with Royston town hall having been identified as the most likely site.

The cinema development would be undertaken by the Royston First Business Improvement District scheme, which collects money from businesses in Royston to invest in projects to improve the town.

Royston has been without a big screen since the Priory Cinema closed in 2000.


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Last night (Monday June 29), a delegation from Royston First's cinema working party gave a presentation at a meeting of Royston town council, asking for the council's help with the project.

John Gourd, chairman of the Royston First steering group, explained that the cinema would be similar to the Saffron Screen facility in Saffron Walden, with seating which could be moved in and out of the hall as necessary.

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He said: "This is probably the biggest catch-all project Royston First is undertaking. We can provide the equipment, which would cost around �100,000, but we are asking you if you can provide us with a suitable building."

Rick Holloway, another member of the working party, said that a cinema was one of the main priorities identified in surveys carried out by Royston First.

Mr Holloway said: "Not only would it provide a cinema, but we would also have a meeting space for large business meetings and seminars. At the moment Royston doesn't have such a facility, so firms have to go elsewhere."

Cath Boughton, editor of The Listing magazine, added that the Town Hall was the only site available in Royston town centre.

"It would ensure that the cinema customers use the pubs and restaurants in the town before and after screenings. Other sites, such as the schools, are further out," she said.

Councillors gave the scheme a positive welcome, and agreed to set up a working party to look at the cost of renovating the Town Hall so it could host a cinema. Members will also take part in a visit to Saffron Screen, organised by Royston First, to see how a community cinema operates.

Cllr Rod Kennedy, Mayor of Royston, said the scheme was a "great concept", while Cllr Philip Mayne said: "The refurbishment of the Town Hall is long overdue, and this could be the opportunity we need to do it."

Cllr Robert Smith added: "We will need to consult the towns residents, and work up a proper business plan."

The Priory Cinema closed in 2000, and the building was demolished in 2002 despite a long-running campaign to save it. The site has now been purchased by North Hertfordshire Homes, and is likely to be used for social housing.

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