Plans submitted for internal revamp of Sutton Coldfield cinema

Sutton Coldfield's cinema could receive a major internal revamp, including sofa seats, under new plans.

Empire, Sutton Coldfield
Empire, Sutton Coldfield

Empire has applied for Listed Building Consent in order to carry out "the internal modernisation" of the cinema, based in Maney Hill.

An application has been submitted to Birmingham City Council which would see changes at venue, including replacing existing standard seating with sofa seats to "enhance the movie experience".

"A precedent has been set for this type of change within similarly Grade 2 listed buildings like The Everyman in York which was an original Odeon design of similar historic features," a report says on the cinema, which has bene closed for more than a year.

Under plans, the report adds: "A new Flex Step lift will be introduced to the cinema foyer to allow accessible access throughout the ground floor.

"Existing female WC entrance and wall layout altered to accommodate a new accessible WC.

"Auditoria 2 and 3 to have existing seats removed, new light weight timber stadia added to existing ramps and steps to create a new decking for sofa seats.

"Auditorium 4 to have all existing seats removed and sofa seats installed on the existing sloped floor.

"Auditorium 1 existing seats removed, stadia steps increased by a timber build up to every second row allowing the installation of sofa seats."

In its Heritage Statement, Empire added: "As a company who has specialized in cinema design for 45 years, we are aware of the continuing advancements in the technology and innovation of the movie going experience.

"One of the current major customer requests and industry battles is the comfort of the movie going experience to compete with the more readily available home streaming services.

"With this in mind it, is the applicant’s intention to install sofa seating which has been very popular in their other sites."

McCarthy Stone recently submitted a planning application to Birmingham City Council, to develop land next to the Empire Cinema, off Holland Road.

The site has previously been used as a pay and display car park and Empire Cinema is selling the car park for redevelopment, to raise the funds needed to refurbish and re-open the cinema.

McCarthy Stone’s proposals would transform the vacant site into Retirement Living accommodation, with a mix of 43 one-and-two-bedroom apartments, available for private sale as well as part rent part buy.

Justin Ribbons, CEO of Empire Cinema, said: “We are pleased to see McCarthy Stone submit their planning application for specialist retirement accommodation on land adjacent to the cinema.

"We have worked closely with McCarthy Stone on the plans and see this as an important step towards securing the long-term future of the cinema.

“We note that concerns have been expressed about the operation of the cinema without parking, but we already operate other cinemas in similar conditions. With suitable upgrades, we remain confident in the viability of the Empire Cinema in Sutton Coldfield.

“We have been delighted to see how passionate the local community is about the future of Empire Cinema in Sutton Coldfield and believe McCarthy Stone’s proposals will support us to re-open our doors to local film lovers.”

Empire's full application can be seen by visiting Birmingham City Council's planning portal and searching for 2022/00122/PA

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