Torbay Council’s proposals for the regeneration of Torquay Town Centre have received a huge boost, as national cinema operator Merlin have concluded a deal to buy the former BHS building.
Merlin will be converting the building to a multi-screen cinema, initially offering six screens of varying capacities, a format they operate with success throughout the South West.
They currently own and manage the Central Cinema on Abbey Road. A move onto the High Street will consolidate and improve Merlin’s offer to Torquay, they tell us, and the wider South Devon catchment area.
Geoff Greaves, owner of Merlin Cinemas, says: ‘We’re really excited by this opportunity. We moved quickly to acquire the building in mid-November and are now pushing forward at a pace to get planning permission, start work on site and open an exciting new multi-screen cinema.
‘We are also looking forward to working closely with Torbay Council to bring about this transitional development. Together with a re-development of our Central Cinema building, we very much see this as a catalyst to assist and support the Council in their wider ambitions for the regeneration of this area. We try to put back into and be part of every community within which we operate.’
‘The Council’s strategy to transform this part of Torquay town centre, from Market Street to the Town Hall, looks to move away from a retail focus to a much more diverse set of uses including residential, health and leisure,’ adds Pat Steward, Town Centre Regeneration Programme Director. ‘Use of the former BHS building as a cinema fits really well with the Council’s ambitions and will help bring new life to the top end of the high street.
‘We will be making a bid for £25M of Future High Streets funding, announced by the Government in the autumn, to support our strategy of further changes in Torbay’s town centres. We will be using projects such as Merlin’s investment in BHS as good reason for Government funding.’
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