Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bournemouth seafront Imax theatre 'to be demolished'


The Imax theatre building has mostly stood empty since 2005

A "detested" Imax theatre building that blocks Bournemouth's seafront views is to be demolished after being bought by the borough council.

The Waterfront building houses a 3D cinema that opened in 2002, but closed three years later after problems.

A spokeswoman said the council had "taken advantage" of the recession to buy the building from long-leaseholders Nilgosc for about £7m.

A spokesman for Nilgosc said he was unable to comment on the purchase.

The building, regularly dubbed one of the country's ugliest, is mostly empty, with only three restaurants still operating.

The purchase will be completed on 1 February but councillors said there were still "hurdles" to overcome before it could be pulled down, including vacating the sub-tenants.

We have listened to Bournemouth's residents who want to see the seafront rid of the detested IMAX building
Councillor Stephen MacLoughlin

New ideas for it had included a swimming pool or ice rink, but a Nilgosc spokesman refused to comment on why the building had not been redeveloped since 2005.

The council tried to buy the building more than two years ago but the then cost of £15m was considered unaffordable.

The cost is now expected to be about half the original amount and will be paid for from a mix of existing capital and borrowing.

Council leader, councillor Stephen MacLoughlin, said: "We have listened to Bournemouth's residents who want to see the seafront rid of the detested IMAX building.

"We have given the existing occupiers enough time to deliver on this site and will not wait for action any longer.

"The time is right for the council to seize the initiative."

3D problems

Deputy council leader, councillor John Beesley, added: "We are purchasing the building but we still need to secure vacant possession from the remaining sub-tenants before we can proceed with any redevelopment.

"We are entering into negotiations with all the relevant parties, in parallel with initiating a compulsory purchase order."

He said the council wanted to develop a new facility at the site, accommodating an all-weather attraction.

The cinema building was built in 1998 but opened nearly three years behind schedule.

By 2003 it was closed four days a week out of season, had problems showing 3D films and failed to reopen after closing for a refit in 2005.

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