Former Odeon building centre of new drive to breathe life into empty Cheltenham buildings
A NEW drive has been launched to rejuvenate a part of Cheltenham littered with empty buildings.
Cheltenham Development Task Force, set up to breathe new life into the town, has turned its attention to the Winchcombe Street area, where vacant sites have caused concern.
They include the former Axiom and Odeon buildings, as well as a spot which used to be occupied by a garage and the former Small Business Centre in Gloucester Place.
Borough council leader Steve Jordan, ward councillor for All Saints, said: "The council doesn't own any of the land in that area, but we are keen to see if we can get something happening there.
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"There are all of these empty sites and there is no sign of any activity."
The derelict Odeon cinema was given planning permission for two restaurants and a nightclub in May 2009.
But the proposals for the 1930s art deco building, which developers have until March 2016 to act on, are yet to come to fruition.
The Axiom Arts Centre, a former corn store built by merchants W Ride & Co in 1887, went into liquidation in 1988, before reopening as another cultural venue in 1993.
It closed in February 2000 and was sold privately in 2005.
There were plans for 160 flats and houses on the former garage and Small Business Centre in Gloucester Place, but the development never happened.
Councillor Jordan is hoping plans for other changes, such as the overhaul at the Regent Arcade and lower High Street, will encourage progress.
He said: "Now we have got some success in other areas nearby we can see if we can make something happen here.
"We have no power because we don't own the land, but it's about encouraging either potential new owners to make something happen or existing owners to maybe do some of the things they have approval for."
A planning application to dramatically change the North Place area is expected to be considered by councillors this month.
If given the green light, the plan would bring a £65million overhaul, including a supermarket and homes.
Earlier this year, an online petition was launched in a bid to save the former Axiom and Odeon buildings.
Councillor Klara Sudbury, who grew up in the area, believes the former art houses are of historical importance.
She said she had asked council officers to look at the "area of local importance".
The people behind website www.28dayslater.co.uk recently published photos from inside the Odeon building.