The Regal Cinema building in Lichfield. Pic: Elliott Brown

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A group of local film enthusiasts are hoping to breathe new life into Lichfield’s old cinema. A meeting on May 23 has been organised for residents to discuss what the future could hold for the former Regal building.
The Regal Cinema building in Lichfield. Pic: Elliott Brown
Since the closure of the cinema on Tamworth Street, the building has been used to house a Kwik Save supermarket and plans had been drawn up to convert the property into a hotel. But the planning application behind that scheme has since been withdrawn. Anna Coley, who is one of those behind the new group, said the building “deserves to be used and loved by its community for the purpose it was intended”. She added: “It seems that many community projects like this are starting to find success in many places, so why shouldn’t Lichfield? “At the meeting we will be discussing options such as the community right to bid, social enterprises and community cinema. There will also be discussion about possible funding and ways in which we can get other organisations on board.” The meeting will take place at The Spark Cafe Bar at 6pm and will be open to all interested parties. “It seems to time is right to consider our options,” Anna said. “We are meeting to discuss any ideas. “For example, there are other communities who have managed to get their cinemas restored, for example in Evesham. “Another great example of the kind of potential the Regal could have is the success of the restored Electric cinema in Birmingham.” For more details visit the Restore the Regal Cinema Facebook group.

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

43 replies on “Film enthusiasts hoping to breathe new life into Lichfield’s old cinema building”

  1. This is a great idea, please consider using the “Community right to assets” – right to bid under the localism Act to help save this building.

    Maybe the developer realising that the hotel wouldn’t be competitive with the imminent arrival of a Premier Inn hotel they may consider a cinema?

    The cost of buying this building back from a developer and the community running it would be remarkable but fear beyond the citizens of Lichfield’s means. Though not impossible :-/

    There would be a need for private investment with a mix of grant money.. and then a planning risk for the council may not want a second cinema plan competing with the Friarsgate development.

    It would be a fantastic situation if Lichfield could bring about its own community challenge for this building….

  2. “There will also be discussion about possible funding ”

    Is that code for – “tax payers to fund your pleasure?”

    How many attended the other cinema trial a week or so ago?

  3. “The cost of buying this building back from a developer and the community running it would be remarkable but fear beyond the citizens of Lichfield’s means.”

    The very first thing the enthusiasts should have done was obtain an indication of costs – it has been at the thinking stage for a very long time.

    Perhaps one of them could post the broad figs.

  4. The screening had about 40 people at it. Not bad considering it was about washing lines with no major hollywood stars.

    apparently last time it was offered the cost was £2m!!

  5. Was £2M the cost of the project or just the building?
    How many followers do you have ?
    I presume you have many hundreds from within 15 mile rad – have you asked them to divide the cost between them?

  6. A group of people trying to do something positive in their community, hoping to restore an unused building into something that will be an asset to the city? I say good luck to them. It might not be easy but at least they are trying to do something positive.

  7. Cynic, the red marks are not an indication that “questions or debate” are not welcome, just your habitual e negativity. This will be a difficult project to pull off, it may never come to fruition, but at least someone has an idea for making Lichfield a better place – or do you like derelict buildings?

  8. Kate/Laurence If someone or a group want to build a cinema with their own money – I wish them all the best. I have seen three cinema come and go and can not see any reason why anyone would throw money down the drain by trying to build a new Regal. You may not know but land has already been put aside for a cinema and permission to build but for many years no one has been prepared to put their cash into it.

    BUT I suspect they want me (hard working tax payers) to pay for it.
    That is why I asked questions. This idea has been talked about for some time.
    IF they have many people interested they could have obtained a broad costing for the total project – done some fund raising – and explained how high is the mountain they are trying to climb.

    I note above 40 people went to the recent film with an excuse for low turnout of the type of film – someone decided that was what they wanted to show and even with free booze – only 40.

  9. ROB – The big problem is people do not go to the cinema as often as we once did.
    Fewer people have to pay for the same over heads. If (and I did say if)there are many people who often go to the cinema in other towns -and we have a cinema, all that will happen is those places will have fewer customers -less income etc.
    I can not see, for the short/medium term, any spare cash going into subsidizing a luxury like a cinema – the other bottomless pit already takes too much.

  10. This is fantastic news to hear that people are actually starting to realize Lichfield needs to breathe some new life into the City. I was born and bred in Lichfield and being a young person it really had nothing to offer me and so I left a few years ago at the age of 24, which is sad really. When I tell people that my home town had never had a cinema in my life time (or anything else for young people for that matter) they were pretty shocked… they all ask what we ever did for fun. I only ever hear of stories from my parents that Lichfield once had a life.

    It’s not really just about having a cinema, it’s about giving the people of Lichfield hope and faith that the City is no longer dying which seems like it has been doing for many many years. It would be a recreational opportunity for people to go to, that isn’t a bar or club and something else to do on a Saturday that spend your money in one of the many discount stores Lichfield now offers.

    There are plenty of young and old people who need hope and something to do for enjoyment… but what does Lichfield have to currently offer them?

    It would be a great feeling to visit this amazing building as a cinema on a next visit back to Lichfield.

  11. Well said Laura. The value of some amenities is far greater than the cost. I am happy that some of my council tax goes towards ensuring that we have a theatre,for example. What a sad place this would be if we only had what 1 individual approved of.

  12. Laurence “I am happy that some of my council tax goes towards ensuring that we have a theatre”
    You obviously can afford the high council tax – a lot can not but they are forced to pay towards the £M,s of pounds to subsidize the place.
    Those that live in Lichfield only have to travel a short distance to lots of “fun” places. With so few actually paying tax in Lichfield we can not afford luxuries. We are told we can not afford a hospital so a cinema comes well down the list. But as you seem to have spare cash – start a fund towards purchasing the cinema – all those in favour – pay for it – simple.

  13. Are you really telling us you, yourself can not afford this luxury and therefore no one should have that opportunity either? Where can you travel to near by Lichfield for some recreation? Tamworth unfortunately doesn’t have many facilities for example and surely travel becomes a luxury with fuel and public transport prices…

    What I think some are also forgetting is that having a cinema/arts centre/theatre (apart from the Garrick) in the town centre will also bring more to the city centre that could potentially bring more wealth to the city town centre. Lichfield is in need of much TLC especially within the centre and putting life back into this building will only enhance the history Lichfield does have to offer. We should be pleased it hasn’t turned into a hotel chain or yet another supermarket and I couldn’t bear to see another discount store.

  14. Has anyone actually approached the ower/developer to canvas their opinion? Without their cooperation the plan is dead in the water anyway. However,you would not necessarily have to buy the place. If there are no immediate plans to redevelop the owner may be prepared to lease it out at a reasonable rent, though that would still leave you with the fit out and running costs – you need to do some homework on that. From the developers point of view this would have the advantage of producing a modest income and improving the profile of the building/ site. Lichfield deserves to have a fully occupied and vibrant centre. Good luck!…

  15. Medici2471-“you need to do some homework “They have been thinking about it for some time but have given no indication of what has gone on so it is difficult to gage where it goes from here.

    Laura “Are you really telling us you, yourself can not afford this luxury ”
    I have never indicated any such thing. I am quite prepared to pay for ANYTHING I want and I have no objection to others doing the same.
    I do object to those that want the state (me) to foot the bill for their luxuries.
    “What I think some are also forgetting is that having a cinema/arts center/theater (apart from the Garrick) in the town center will also bring more to the city center that could potentially bring more wealth to the city town center.” We have heard that many times when the £Millions are spent on the Garrick and its predecessors. If it were true all shops near the Garrick would be hugely successful!!
    “Where can you travel to ” You are so close to the second city with all the entertainment you could dream of. It caters for all tastes and only a few mins away. The nearest cinema is even closer. What makes you think a financially viable center will be cheaper than going to another venue?

  16. In response to cynic, I don’t have any followers, I just went to watch the film because I thought it would be fun.

    I agree wit your sentiments and think that if there was a business model at present to turn it back in to a cinema then it would have been done.

    I also agree that the business model will be changing and I’d rather the building became something rather tha nothing.

    How about a cinema/music arena/nightclub/or how about the Garrick put films on. The challenge is that people can drive to surrounding cinemas and also the fact that there are half a dozen new releases a week of films, which wasnt the case when it was origionly built, means multi-plex offer something that a Lichfield cinema couldnt offer.

  17. I think the Facebook group / this group could do with a bit more promotion. I see it’s been worked on for a year or so but I only just heard about it through Lichfield live twitter feed. Hopefully the word can be spread :)

    If I can make the meeting on Friday (in between getting back from work and going out in Brum – pre bank holiday Friday fun!) I’d be interested to see what stage things are at as I’m unclear at the moment.

    Lichfield could do with more nice entertainment venues and fewer empty buildings, so if there are options then it’s worth exploring

  18. You can only watch one film at at time so why would you need a muli-plex cinema
    if the film showing is the one the you want to see you go,Lichfield needs another
    nightclub like the pope needs a parachute,It is a large building so it would be
    possible to have a smaller cinema with the rest of the space for other uses.

  19. Hi folks – just to clarify: The time of the meeting is no longer Friday. It has been changed to THURSDAY 23rd. The time will be 6pm and the venue will hopefully still be Spark.

    In answer to the questions being raised – finding out about cost and the standpoint of the owners will indeed be some of the first things we will be doing. These issues will be raised at the meeting :-)

  20. Anna -“finding out about cost and the standpoint of the owners ”

    If you had ANY enthusiasts involved you would know by now the cost of the total project – you would have looked at raising funds and already have a sizable fund. One of the team would have floated a charity. You would have already put out feelers to the arts etc. Many people go out fund raising for a variety of causes some just sit and wait. I see the council have already said NO NO to another cinema. I have mentioned before the Regal is a dead duck only fit for demolition.
    We did have films at the Garrick (or at least what ever it was called at the time) and failed miserably but you could always try again.
    Look at a sensible small site – is there no pub with a big enough room?
    The site is in a prime spot – too costly for this sort of enterprise. IMO the building (not the land)is worth less than zero because of the front – which I think is rubbish – far better examples around.

  21. Laura -“what does Lichfield have to currently offer” What a sad indictment of young people today. If you want a big city life you go to a big city.
    Next time you are in Lichfield area try actually looking at your surroundings – no not the shops or pubs and there was life before the flicks.Are you one of those people that have had a phone implanted in your ear?
    We are constantly amazed the kids being dragged around the shops -bored.
    Lichfield area has much to offer – but there is none so blind as those that will not see. Can I be nosey and ask which “better place” you went to?

  22. “We’re just getting started. Have to start somewhere :-)”

    Is this not the same group that was talking about it a year or so ago?

    You need to have some one in charge of each of the various sections -forming a charity -fund raising – obtaining add’s of likely donors – estimates (not detailed at this stage because of expense) – looking for new sites etc etc.
    Quoting places like the Electric brum is no good – brum is slightly larger than Lichfield and a philanthropic entrepreneur helped!

    The post from Northern Lass looks good – gave the impression of being more enthusiastic than all the other posts put together. If it is indicative of the real person – grab her for one of the jobs. Six people like she appears to be and nothing is out of reach (except the Regal).

  23. Just a note to say that Anna has informed us that the meeting has now been rescheduled for Thursday (May 23) at 6pm.

  24. Just because I am a “younger” person and agree with reviving an old cinema does not mean I am an ignorant moron to my surroundings and “have a phone stuck to my ear”.

    There was no mention of a “better place” either, I merely mentioned that Lichfield had nothing to offer me….. there is really no need to start attacking individuals.

    Anyway I wish luck to those in favour of the cinema and I would definitely be part of this if I lived back in the Midlands.

  25. It’s very difficult to plan a cinema revival when there’s active planning permission for alternative usage on there as I believe there was. There isn’t now so action is being taken. Find it astonishing that a positive cultural step is being so, in my view, cruelly criticised. If you have a suggestion, make it constructive because frankly, every one of your posts appears negative and unfair.

    There’s enthusiastic local individuals looking to make a difference, so where’s the issue? There’s a lot to discuss clearly, this is the first step. A promoted meeting, enthused locals and a start on a plan. What did you expect from the article? A full business plan? Give them a flipping chance!

  26. Thankfully the negative comments here seem to be in the minority, with lots of support for the group. I for one am all for it – bring back the Regal to its former glory!

  27. Indeed, I’m all for it and willing to lend my support. Advertising is the key, I’ve only just spotted this.

    FB Groups are OK, getting the message out there should be the priority.

  28. The main issue will be cash. To convert the building back to a Cinema would cost at least a six figure sum on top of the purchase of the freehold or a long term lease. Lichfield does not have the demographics to support such a large Cinema project. The only way forward would be to make the site a multi-use leisure complex with the inclusion of a cinema room.

  29. The Friarsgate has not been built so any considerations are academic although new build/design is far more cost effective than renovating an old site (putting character to one side).

  30. Good point, Mark; but it is at least encouraging that the may well be a market. I will do my best to get to the meeting on Thursday, but I’m scarcely back from work by 6 so it could be late.

  31. “Why would they consider a cinema in the Friars gate redevelopment” Could it be to give the council “Bragging Rights”? We will know when/if the cinema is built without more help from the council. You will know a lot were against the original plans (me) and they have been changed over the long period since then .

  32. Cynic please at least try to be positive as well as realistic about this. Recognise that a few people have passion in what they’re doing and that its not to do with drugs, tattoos, vandalism or killing people with knives .

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