Abingdon's Abbey Cinema has been saved after town councillors signed a new lease agreement with the owners.

Ian and Sue Wiper opened the cinema at The Guildhall in 2018 after some initial screenings at the Unicorn Theatre and it has been a popular attraction ever since.

But this summer it was thought the cinema could be under threat of closure as talks regarding refurbishment costs dragged on.

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Now an agreement has been reached and a two-year lease has been signed.

Abingdon Town Council released a statement today (Monday, October 2) which said a deal had been struck which will mean the Abbey Cinema continuing to show films, live screenings and other events for the next two years.

But then it will have to close as a major refurbishment will start.

Oxford Mail: Jim Halliday with Ian and Sue Wiper and town mayor Gwyneth LewisThe statement said: "Following extensive and detailed negotiations, a new two-year lease was signed by representatives of the town council and the Abbey Cinema on September 27, following a short town council meeting.

"The Abbey Cinema will continue to operate for two years until the end of August 2025, at which point the building will be closed for a major refurbishment."

Leader of Abingdon Town Council Jim Halliday said: “I am delighted that we have been able to agree this deal. 

"Councillors have consistently said that we want a cinema to continue in Abingdon and we’ve put a lot of time and effort in to get this deal across the line.

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“We have also ensured that the agreement is good value for local taxpayers.

"The Abbey Cinema will continue to pay a fair rent for the building with a discount that recognises the good work they do for the local community.

Oxford Mail: “As I said at the special town meeting we held in May, I am a passionate believer that there should be a cinema in Abingdon, so I am very pleased we have come to an agreement.”

The cinema will need to close in September 2025 to allow for an extensive refurbishment of the Guildhall.

The council said it would be investing "a significant amount"  of money on the building and roof to bring it up to standard including significantly improving its energy efficiency.

Oxford Mail: The Guildhall in Abingdon

It added: "The time between now and then will be used to make detailed plans for the refurbishment so that the closure can be as short as possible.

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"The time will also be used to agree how the building will be managed in the long term, after the refurbishment.

"The aim is to agree long term cinema provision."

The Abbey Cinema has been showing box office hits, combined with some independent films.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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