Gosport residents have backed the council’s plan to revive the historic Criterion Cinema.

The Criterion on Forton Road, formerly a bingo hall until its closure in 2020, was bought by Gosport Borough Council with the plan of restoring it as a multi-use entertainment venue.

In a council survey, some 73 per cent of people said they were ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to visit the venue with under 25s showing the most interest.

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Councillor Peter Chegwyn, leader of the Council, said: “This survey shows solid majority support for our plan to restore the Criterion as a fantastic asset to our community.

“It’s clear there’s a big demand for an entertainment venue where a variety of events can take place. It’s great that so many people took part in the survey and told us their views. These will be very useful as we develop the project.”

The consultation ran earlier this year, and a total of 1,149 people responded of which over half said they were interested in seeing live music, film screenings, fairs and markets at the proposed venue. Under half of respondents said they were interested in theatre and comedy performances.

Of the 73 per cent of people who said they were likely to visit the venue, 21 per cent said they were unlikely with six per cent of respondents undecided.

The council is currently working on the building to clear weeds and carry out necessary repairs. Safety inspections will be conducted on the parapets and the statue, with the likelihood of removing the large crown sign.

Tours of the building, organised by Hampshire Cultural Trust last month as part of the Heritage Open Days initiative, saw 100 participants and were fully booked. Many visitors contributed stories and photos that will support a local history project to be organized by the Trust next year.

The organisations that participated in the consultation expressed enthusiasm for the project and a strong desire to be involved.

The council intends to conduct additional consultations with local businesses and groups in October to further explore potential uses for the building.