A DEVELOPER’S plans to demolish Colchester’s iconic old Odeon cinema and replace it with 55 new apartments are set to be thrown out.

Owner Blumarble Property applied for planning permission to create the new flats, as well as two retail units and a basement car park, in place of the Crouch Street building, which is locally listed.

The latest proposals, submitted in May 2020, emerged after the firm’s previous £10 million ran into financial difficulties.

Blumarble said demolishing the building completely and creating a replica of the historic foyer was the only way to make its plans financially viable.

However, Colchester Council’s planning officers have recommended councillors reject the plans.

Ward councillor Mark Goacher called in the plan in to the committee saying it “contradicts previous guarantees that the facade would be retained”.

A report, which will go before the committee next Thursday, said demolishing the frontage and replacing it with a similar construction was “philosophically questionable”.

It said: “The application causes significant concerns in terms of its impact on identified heritage assets.

“The proposals will result in the complete loss of a locally important non designated heritage asset that contributes positively to the conservation area.

“The proposal to reinstate the front elevation on Crouch Street by attempting to imitate the historic façade while increasing the volume of the range will be to the detriment of the street scene and the addition of the extra storey of the rear block compromises the potential for the development to integrate successfully into the built context of the area.”

It adds: “The application is considered to constitute poor design and, by virtue of this and the demolition of a locally listed building, the development will have an adverse impact on the townscape of the area, including that of the town centre conservation area and the setting of nearby listed buildings.”

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The old Odeon, designed by architect Cecil Massey in the 1930s, has been empty since the cinema closed in 2002.

Before it became a cinema it was a theatre, with bands like the Rolling Stones gracing its stage.

Blumarble has twice been ordered to tidy up the premises by Colchester Council.

Both Historic England and the Theatres’ Trust objected to the developer's latest plans.