Plan for old picture house to be revived

EXCLUSIVE

A DISUSED popular cinema could be revived in Batley town centre.

The old Regent Cinema, which opened at the beginning of the 20th century, could be returned to its former glory if developers NBE Holdings get the nod from the council.

Barry Ellis, NBE managing director, wants to buy the snooker club in Bradford Road, opposite the post office, and convert it into a nostalgic cinema, a wine bar, and ‘souk’ – an Arab-style bazaar.

Mr Ellis was a projectionist at the Regent after he left school 45 years ago.

Inside the building the cinema’s old balconies still exist, as well as some of the seating, and the original projectors.

Mr Ellis wants to re-create part of the cinema which would screen the old classics, such as Charlie Chaplin, and give free entry to over-50s.

He said: “It will be bringing back the building to its former glory. We will keep the building’s main features. We want to keep the front the same and keep the original plaster work.”

The snooker club would move into the building next door once its renovation was complete.

He added: “At the moment these buildings are an eyesore. They have been like this for a long time.”

The 28,000m square two-floor building would also include a type of souk – with shops selling Asian goods, and a wine bar.

Mr Ellis said all three entities would have separate entrances.

And the work would take 18 months to complete from start to finish.

The plans are part of NBE’s major 9m development of the Hick Lane junction area which began two years ago.

Renovation work on the snooker club would bump the costs up to 12m.

“The whole project is the biggest we have done,” said Mr Ellis.

NBE’s new flats at the bottom of Soothill Lane and in Bar Street will be on the market in the New Year.

Mr Ellis also revealed that planning permission would be sought to convert the building at the end of Bar Street into flats.

But over the two years NBE has faced planning rejections and delays from the council.

Saffron Restaurant – the former Hepworth and England building – was twice refused before it was finally allowed.

Preston Jenkinson has been waiting for eight months for planning permission to be turned into a wine bar and offices, and the HSBC building for seven months.

Mr Ellis said: “The council wants people like us to invest but I feel we could do with more support with planning applications. If these developments go ahead they will employ 100 people.

“We would like to see all this tidied up. It’s looked shabby for a long time.”

Entrepreneur Stephen Battye is heavily involved with the development plans, including the cinema and souk.

He said: “We are very interested in the development of a souk. We went to Dubai to look at developments there. It’s a fantastic way of East meets West.”