Oswestry designer urges people to back Regal Cinema project.

A Shropshire designer today called on Oswestry residents and council chiefs to give their backing to create a new £500,000 performance venue in Oswestry - claiming it could kick start revitalisation of the town.

Craig Marston, owner of Ke-design in Salop Road, has urged the council to support The Regal Project Group in their plans to convert the former Regal Cinema into a multipurpose theatre, arts and performance venue.

Mr Marston, who has worked on urban regeneration projects in Leeds, London and Hong Kong, said the venue in Leg Street could be just what Oswestry needs.

He said: “The Regal Project is a fantastic idea. Oswestry is in much need of urban regeneration and a project like this would help kick start the revitalisation.

“The Government recognises Cultural centres are important hubs of social interaction as well as providers of local jobs - and town centre's should be a destination for socialising, culture, health, well-being, creativity and learning.

“Oswestry is the second biggest town in Shropshire and is missing out on facilities like this that contribute to the economy.

“The town’s nightlife is continuing to decline with residents having to travel to smaller towns in the county for cultured entertainment, sometimes as far away as Much Wenlock or Newtown, taking their money with them.”

The 39-year-old designer moved back to his home town four years ago to set up his architectural design studio.

He said the town is in need of investment to make it a more attractive place to live, attract businesses and entertainment for residents and tourists.

The Regal Project Group is hoping to make the dream a reality with money from the Arts Council and Lottery funding.

Mr Marston added: “The Regal cinema is a landmark building in the town, people have fond memories of queuing up Leg Street to see the latest film.

“The former cinema is possibly the only building in Oswestry that can lend itself to accommodate a cultural centre and in the perfect location in the town centre, with a car park adjacent, local restaurants and bars will benefit.

“And not just at night time, the general economy would benefit with Saturday matinee performances and screenings as well as workshops in the week.”

The building closed in 1994 and is currently leased to the YMCA as a charity shop.

Other interested parties include leaders at Hope Church (formerly Carreg Llwyd Church), who want to turn the former cinema into a 300-seater auditorium for meetings.

Mr Marston added: “It would be a shame should Oswestry miss out on an opportunity for the community and all of its residents.

“Perhaps the council could secure the building with the windfall from the sale of the Smithfield and decide on its use following the best proposal and what would be most benefiting to the town's economy - rather than leave it to who purchases it to decide on Oswestry's fate.”

Anybody interested in The Regal Project can email Craig at [email protected]

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