BUSINESSMEN behind a project to bring a cinema to the centre of Marlborough are keeping their fingers crossed that they get planning permission to convert a second building.

Robert Hiscox, who is chairman of Image Cinemas, is delighted that funding of £1.5 million is now in place to make the scheme a reality in the old Congregational Chapel in The Parade.

But he said this week that getting permission to turn the neighbouring building of 2 The Manse into an annexe where drink and food can be sold is vital.

He said: “Food and beverage is what it is all about these days to make a project like this for a boutique cinema economic. We want people to be able to get a gin and tonic and a few tapas and take them to their incredibly comfy seat with a table so it becomes a whole experience.”

Mr Hiscox, and his fellow directors Orlando Harris and Miles Watson-Smyth, are working with an architect, builder and engineer to get listed building consent for the old chapel.

Mr Hiscox thinks it unlikely, even if planning runs smoothly that the cinema will be ready in time to open before Christmas but he has high hopes it will open early in the new year.

It could have up to 120 seats with 80 on the ground floor and 30 on the balcony. It is likely to have three showings a day and in addition to movies it will live-screen theatre shows and ballet from London.

Mr Hiscox said: “We have raised the necessary £1.5 million to complete the project. The directors were very pleased at the support, the majority of which came from local people.

“There is definitely a great demand for a cinema in Marlborough and small independent cinemas are doing very well all round the country.

“We will now start work on converting the chapel to a cinema, and subject to planning permission being secured, start work on 2 The Manse to provide associated cafe space and light catering facilities.”