A NEW state-of-the-art cinema for Rye has moved a step closer with the Fletcher Group securing funding.
Fletcher Centre Properties signed an agreement this month with a locally active charitable body for a substantial loan.
Hugh Kermode, from the Fletcher Group, said: “This gives the development gets the green light.”
The cinema will be situated on the former FE building site at Lion Street which was acquired from Sussex South Coast College by the Fletcher Group and St Mary’s Church for around quarter of a million pounds.
It is planned that the cinema will be operated buy the successful Kino group who have a long-established small cinema at nearby Hawkhurst.
Mr Kermode said: “The support we’ve had from the people and businesses of Rye and particularly from the East Sussex County Council Rural Regeneration Fund means that by Christmas next year, Rye will have a state-of-the-art, two-screen digital cinema, available all-year round to residents and visitors.
“We must also mention The Kino. They are investing a lot of money, time and expertise in bringing this facility to Rye - they are the experts who will run the venue and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to the business and cultural community of Rye.”
He went on to say: “Various stages of the build will begin before this Christmas with construction starting early in 2014. But there’s already been a lot of work going on behind the scenes - not just fund-raising but also preparatory work on the site.
“After a period of discussions and tendering, a letter of intent has been issued to R Durtnell and Sons Limited - our favoured civil engineering and building contractor - and we have signed a letter of intent which enabled them to start a “soft strip-out” .
Final contracts will be signed shortly after this. Durtnell have a lot of experience with Listed properties as well as having built cinemas and other public spaces - not least Turner Contemporary in Margate and the new cinema at Canterbury University.
The plan is to open the cinema in time for the Christmas holidays 2014.
Interestingly, they are quite possibly the oldest building firm in the UK - ancestors of the current family having been involved in the building of Poundsbridge Manor near Penshurst in 1591.
“It is enticing to speculate that John Fletcher and his family may have visited not long after it was completed. Poundsbridge was built for the Rector of Penshurst and John Fletcher’s father Richard was Minister of St Mary’s in Rye.
“Also necessary was a survey to make sure that we weren’t about to disturb anything of archaeological importance. Again more digging and a few visits from the County Archaeologist and the result is a positive one.”
The FE Centre is currently being used by Rye Studio School students prior to completion of their new school.