Newmarket's historic Subscription Rooms in town's High Street could become site of new cinema
A historic building in the centre of Newmarket is being looked at as a potential site for a new cinema for the town.
Nick Patton, managing director of Jockey Club Estates, confirmed the organisation was in talks with West Suffolk Council over the possibility of converting the Subscription Rooms in the High Street, which until 2016 were home to the National Horseracing Museum.
“It is very early days but we are discussing the feasibilty of the property becoming a cinema,” said Mr Patton.
“Jockey Club Estates is currently looking at all its assets and how they can be used for the good of the town and all its residents,” he said. “The Subscription Rooms have been empty since the racing museum relocated to Palace House and we have been looking at alternative uses. It would a tricky building to convert and funding would have to be in place.”
Once home to two cinemas, Newmarket has now been without one for more than 40 years.
In 2013 a multi-screen complex was proposed as part of a plan for a new Sainbury’s at the George Lambton playing fields. But that proposal was rejected in favour of a supermarket development in Exning Road, now Aldi.
In 2017, research commissioned by Forest Heath District Council confirmed there was strong local demand for a cinema and, two years later, following in-depth viability studies, costing around £200,000, a report was produced for West Suffolk Council, which had taken over as the district authority, suggesting the best site would be in front of the entrance to The Guineas shopping centre where it would benefit from existing car parking.
However, late in 2019 the project started to flounder because the government announced it would be charging more for its loans made to councils.
Plans, which had already been delayed by the General Election, were set to be discussed in January 2020.
But as the coronavirus pandemic took hold later that year, proposals for the cinema the town’s residents had been crying out for and even been promised by the town’s MP Matthew Hancock, seemed a distant memory although Cllr Susan Glossop, the council’s cabinet member for growth told the Journal at the end of last year: “Our ambition to deliver a cinema that would support the regeneration of the High Street remains.”