Oakham resident calls for debate on Victoria Hall future after Rutland Kino plans approved for new cinema
An Oakham woman is hoping to stage a debate on the future of Victoria Hall despite plans being approved to convert it into a boutique cinema.
Joscelyne Orr presented an alternative proposal for the Victorian Grade II listed building at a meeting of Victoria Hall trustees on Tuesday evening.
She would like the building, in Oakham High Street, to become a hub for the arts community and business start-ups as well as a space for debates, banquets and dances.
Rutland County Council (RCC) gave planning permission for a two-screen cinema earlier this month.
"The people I have spoken to don't think Rutland Kino will take off and so what will they do for a back-up plan if that happens," she said.
"I am not against cinema at all. All I'm doing is coming up with an 11th-hour back-up plan."
The Agricultural Hall was built in 1858 as a meeting place and library for the farming community and took its present name in 1899 when established as a charity.
Joscelyne would like the public to call for a debate on the future of the hall, and has complained to the Charities Commission.
“The Agricultural Hall, as it was originally known was intended for the community,” she said.
"It should be returned to what it has been used for over the last 20 to 30 years. I just don't think it has been marketed properly.
"There is a lot of uncertainty for the people who are renting space in the hall and their efforts to run a business have been overlooked somewhat."
Joscelyne has disputed the cinema’s forecast that it could sell 1,000 tickets each week.
But Andrew Robinson, who is spearheading Rutland Kino with fellow director Genevieve Margrett, says the business model is robust and realistic, and that the planning process, including consultation, was meticulously followed.
“Our business plan has been well researched and we consulted with several other boutique cinemas in market towns like Oakham," he said.
“Selling that number of tickets from a two-screen cinema is perfectly feasible.
“Most of the public that expressed a view to RCC on the planning application were four-to-one in favour.
“There has been a similar largely positive response on social media.
“The Charities Commission received a copy of both planning applications in July and would have commented within the eight-week period if they had concerns."
Rutland Kino is approaching investors for the remaining £500,000 needed to reach the £2million target, and they hope to open by the end of next year.
“The Victoria Hall Trust approached Rutland Kino and a majority of trustees voted in favour of an agreement with Rutland Kino.
“The Trust also has an obligation to be financially viable which, with its current use level, it is not, hence the approach to us."