TODAY marks three years since the Regent Cinema in Lyme Regis was destroyed by fire, and residents are still asking questions about its rebuild.
The town stood in shock as it watched its 1930s Art Deco cinema engulfed in flames on March 22 2016.
At the height of the blaze, thick black smoke rising from the site could be seen for miles and eight crews from three counties worked to prevent the flames spreading to adjoining buildings.
Residents were visibly upset as they watched the incident unfold from the street.
The fire was started by an electrical fault in the recently-refurbished cinema; it completely destroyed the auditorium, which was later demolished, but fire doors largely protected the Grade II Listed frontage which still stands in Broad Street.
Following the blaze, owners Scott Cinemas said they had “every intention to rebuild the cinema to its former glory”.
However, the complex insurance claim took a year to finalise, described by Scott Cinemas as “a much longer process than we had hoped”.
The company later merged with Cornwall-based cinema chain WTW, forming WTW Scott Cinemas, and has since been working on plans for the rebuild of the Regent but has struggled to put together a scheme that is both financially and architecturally viable.
Fourth design proposal
The latest statement from the owners, released on February 18 this year, said: “WTW-Scott Cinema group is still actively engaged in a potential rebuild scheme for the Lyme Regis cinema.
“We’re currently working on our fourth set of design proposals, from which we need to reach the point where the rebuild scheme is both financially and architecturally viable.
“At present, we have not consulted with local authorities as there is little point in wasting everybody’s time presenting a scheme design that isn’t viable.
“New build cinemas are architecturally very complicated, and the Lyme Regis venue being a listed building presents challenges to overcome, all of which add significantly to any build schedule.
“Once we have a viable, workable scheme, we look forward to working with the local authority and Historic England to progress this.
“Contrary to rumours, we have not sold the site and Scott Cinemas recent partnership with WTW Cinemas has only helped solidify our design aspirations for Lyme Regis, and our continued expansion in the South West.”