The former Odeon cinema site in Colchester has been empty for more than 20 years.

This week it was revealed new plans have gone in to turn the site into a 120 bed hotel. 

In comes after years of failed bids to bring the site back into use in some form. 

Earlier this year an inspector ruled plans by Blumarble to demolish the building and turn it into flats and shops should not go ahead. 

The plans were rejected by councillors in August 2021.

Blumarble, which has owned the old Odeon site since 2015, launched an appeal against Colchester Council’s decision.

An inspector has now reviewed the plans and upheld the council's ruling.

The cinema, originally known as The Regal, opened in 1931 and was designed by Cecil Masey.

Masey specialised in design of theatres and cinemas and the Crouch Street site is a regional example of his work.

The building has a distinctive central gable with its curved, Moorish shape.


When the art deco building first opened in Crouch Street in 1931 it became the sixth cinema in the town.

Despite the iconic look of the cinema a new life for the site has not been agreed. 

When Odeon Cinemas moved to their current site in Head Street in 2002, the firm imposed what is known as a “restrictive covenant” on the Crouch Street site, which prevents its future use as a cinema.

This means the site cannot be used as a cinema.


Over the years alternative options have been proposed including apartments, a bar and a nightclub.

Businessman Steve Peri wanted to turn the building into a huge nightclub.

It would have been a "superclub" and had room for about 1,700 revellers.

However, Colchester Council stepped in to block the proposed development.

The nightclub plans rumbled on for more than five years after initially being revealed way back in 2005.

A planning appeal to a Government inspector was even rejected.

After that the site has mainly been considered for flats.