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Lights, camera, action for New Picture House Cinema in St Andrews

InvestFife news

July 3, 2024

The green light has been given by Fife Council to proposals for the New Picture House in St Andrews, which will serve to ensure a cinema offering remains in the town.

With full planning permission received, subject to conditions, T-Squared Social’s proposals for the cinema will see two out of three screens, including the main auditorium, retained.

Backed by Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods, it will also see the New Picture House name retained and deliver a family-friendly, blended cinema, dining and entertainment offering.

This will establish the New Picture House as a social hub for St Andrews, while, at the time, saving the historic building and beloved cinema.

The cinema in St Andrews has not been viable for the past number of years and like many other cinemas, is in steep decline, running at under 10 per cent occupancy. The New Picture House was therefore faced with a decision to close or adapt, and hence the involvement of T-Squared Social.

This decline has been due to a perfect storm of factors, including the cost-of-living crisis, and a rise in energy prices. There has also been a reduction in commercially successful Hollywood and independent film content, with people’s viewing habits fundamentally changing as more is now directly available on streaming services such as Netflix.

Working with a team of architects and contractors much of the New Picture House, which is a listed building and dates from the 1930s, will remain the same. Any renovations and enhancements will be made to the interior, not the exterior, preserving and celebrating the building, including the name above the door.

Commenting on this, Christopher Anand, Managing Partner for T-Squared Social said:

“We are delighted to have received planning permission for our exciting proposals. As a team, we listened to the residents of St. Andrews, and taking account of this increased the number of screens, including retaining the main auditorium. With our new entertainment concept, sitting alongside the cinema, this will ensure that a cinema offering can remain in the town for this and for generations to come.

“We look forward to continue to work with Fife Council and the local community as we seek to deliver our scheme.”

In addition, the development will deliver a significant economic investment in the town, with 40-50 staff employed, an increase on the current 10, who will also be given the opportunity to stay with the new venture.

One of the screens will be maintained in its present form with improvements made to the seating and technology to improve the viewing experience. Current seating in Cinema 2 will be replaced with comfortable seat groupings, allowing people to socialise, with an area for electronic darts.

The main auditorium will retain the large screen, still showing films, and as a multi-functional space will include a range of sports simulators including golf, rugby, lacrosse and football. The seating here will be entirely flexible, allowing the aspect of the seats to change depending on the use of the auditorium on a day-to-day basis.

The character of the auditorium is also being protected with existing ceiling, walls and stage features retained. Responding to the public the much-loved upper level of the cinema will be staying as it is today, with over 300 seats retained in the venue for cinema goers.

David Morris, the Managing Director for New Picture House will stay and manage the transition to the new venture. He commented:

“It is fabulous to see the amazing support we have received from the community for these proposals, and to see them getting the green light from Fife Council.  The intervention by T-Squared not only allows a cinema offering to be retained for the town, but indeed the building itself. This is the right company, we felt, to maintain the family legacy that has been up for almost a century.”

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