THE new owner of the Regent Cinema in Lyme Regis has responded to speculation on social media, saying that no definite scheme for the long-term future of the building has been agreed yet, but it will be put to use in the short-term.
Rumours were circulated on Facebook this week that the fire-stricken Regent, which has remained closed for just over six years, would not be redeveloped as a cinema but instead as a café with flats behind it.
The site was last year sold by WTW Scott Cinemas to local businessman Seb Walther, who also owns Marshwood Garage.
Responding to the claims made on Facebook, Mr Walther said he was hoping to find some kind of short-term use for the Grade II listed building while “long and arduous” planning consents were sought for the long-term.
He said: “There has been some local speculation on social media concerning the old Regent Cinema and I feel there is a need to respond.
“Over the last six weeks the Regent has suffered even more damage. This is due to youths breaking in repeatedly via the rear yard. Even after repairing the damage caused each day, they would return to cause more.
“The damage reached its height after they actually demolished a hole through the external 18” wall to gain entry, after the existing entrances were double boarded inside and out.
“Thankfully, after some images being caught of the youths and some gentle words said, this has now stopped, but the issue to attend to is to find some kind of use for the building while the long and arduous planning consents are applied for, to avoid this recurring.”
Mr Walther explained that Lyme Regis businessman Steve Postles, former tenant of clothes shop Neat, next to the Regent Cinema, and part-owner of Deli Weli at the Cobb, had approached him with regards to renting the old shop again.
After some discussion, it has been agreed to allow Mr Postles use of the ground floor of the Regent Cinema for one year to give it some purpose, to avoid further incidents of vandalism and damage, and to clean up the frontage of this town centre building.
Mr Walther added: “As to the speculation of my future plans for the building, there has been no definite scheme agreed on as yet, but when it is agreed upon, there will be consultations and a presentation to the town council, with hopefully some positive consensus on bringing the former cinema into a new and exciting use for us all to enjoy.”