A VACANT town centre cinema has yet another possible new tenant after an Oswestry church threw its hat into the ring.
Leaders at Hope Church (formerly Carreg Llwyd Church) are investigating the possibility of moving into the former Regal Cinema on Leg Street, saying the move would enable the church to expand its activities to the whole community of Oswestry.
Proposals to create a 300-seater auditorium for church meetings and functions, with other rooms and facilities for a variety of community activities are currently subject to a feasibility study into the costs and opportunities of such a move from the church’s current base in Laburnum Drive.
Derek Hughes, Pastor of the church, said: “We see this as a significant opportunity that fits in with the church’s vision to serve a wider community than it does at present.
“We have always sought to be a vibrant, forward looking church, keen to make a positive impact on the town of Oswestry.
“Hope Church is growing with up to 200 people attending our services on a Sunday morning and we will soon need to find alternative premises to accommodate this number.”
But the plans come as those seeking to turn the Regal into a £500,000 theatre, cinema and restaurant venue revealed they will be applying to the Arts Council for “several million pounds” of funding, as well as the Big Lottery Fund.
The Oswestry Regal Project team plan to buy and renovate the building, which closed in 1994 and is currently leased to the YMCA charity, and have already received funding from the Oswestry Local Joint Committee to carry out a feasibility study.
Chas Nicolson, who is leading the team, said: “It is a long-term move. We have not been promised something but it is a source of funding.
“If we get the support of the town and Shropshire councils we can then go forward to the Arts Council. We will be hoping to do that this year.”
But Pastor Hughes said Hope Church is keen to work with the Regal Project team and any other parties that would like to move to the venue.
“We have been considering the old Regal Cinema for some months and felt it is now the right time to make this public in view of all the interest being shown about the future of the Regal,” he added.
The Regal Cinema was included in the Oswestry 2020 vision plan for the town, revealed in November, last year, stating it could help to develop an arts venue for Oswestry.
Hope church was established as a mission church to the people living on Carreg Llwyd estate in 1964.
It has been responsible for a number of projects including opening the Oswestry Christian Bookshop in Lower Brook Street, the Kingswell Family Centre in Arthur Street and starting the Oswestry Furniture Store.
It also “planted” a new church to serve the expanding Eastern Oswestry area which is now the Cabin Lane Church which has its own premises, the Whole Life Christian Centre, and a fast-growing congregation.