Planning permission for a temporary cinema in Berwick while the Maltings is transformed has been given the go-ahead.
North Northumberland Local Area Council approved plans for the temporary conversion of the Mob Store at Berwick Barracks to provide a 96-seat cinema.
Berwick Barracks are Grade I Listed buildings and are amongst the first purpose-built barracks to be built in England, completed in 1721. The Mob Store dates from the early 20th century and was used to store military equipment.
Members were told that while works are carried out on the new multi-million-pound Maltings theatre, there is a requirement to rehouse key components of the Maltings to provide continuity of facilities for visitors and the community.
The new cinema will be designed in such a way that the Mob Store can then be adapted into an archive facility when the Maltings is completed and the Mob Store cinema is no longer required.
Councillor Jeff Watson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for arts at Northumberland County Council, said: “These are exciting times for Berwick, with the Living Barracks project and transformation of the Maltings theatre.
“While the Maltings work takes place it’s crucial the key offers they provide can carry on elsewhere in the town and we’re pleased the cinema will remain in a central location.”
Scott Sherrard, Chair of Trustees, Maltings (Berwick) Trust, said: ‘The Maltings redevelopment will galvanise Berwick’s cultural and economic regeneration, spearheading a series of projects with Lottery, local and national government backing.
“Creating the temporary Mob Store Cinema is the first in a carefully planned sequence of interlinked steps. It will maintain an essential entertainment service for the town and provide vital income for The Maltings while the Eastern Lane venue is closed. It will equip the Mob Store to become the Berwick Archive’s permanent base when The Maltings moves back home – making efficient use of public funding and securing the Archive’s future in Berwick. And with work also planned on upgrading the Gymnasium Gallery, it launches the long-awaited revitalisation of the Barracks as a flagship visitor attraction for the town.
“We appreciate that these developments will bring some unavoidable upheaval in the short term. But together they will create new opportunities for Berwick, bringing fresh energy and vitality to the town centre. Throughout the process, The Maltings will find new ways to showcase and celebrate the creative talents and interests of all our local communities because it’s our passionate belief that shared entertainment makes lives better.”