THE dream of bringing a cinema to Abingdon’s Abbey Hall will finally be realised after the town council approved the scheme.

At a full meeting of the authority on Wednesday, councillors agreed to the principle of renting the Abbey Hall until the summer of 2020 to the Regal Cinema, which is based in Evesham,Worcestershire.

A notice on the Abingdon Town Council website added this was subject to a formal legal agreement but that this ‘should not delay matters’ and in the meantime work had already started to enable the cinema to move in.

Husband and wife Ian and Sue Wiper, who own the independent cinema, wrote to Abingdon Town Council, which owns the building, in January asking it to consider letting them use the Guildhall’s 1960s extension for screenings.

Mrs Wiper wrote: “Our plan for the Guildhall is to invest in state of the art projection and audio-visual equipment and a big retractable screen which we would remove at the end of our tenancy. We would also invest and install, at our expense, luxury seating.”

The cinema couple expect to open in time for the release of Mamma Mia Two in July.

It follows the success of The Regal’s temporary cinema in the Unicorn Theatre in Checker Walk this winter, with almost 8,000 tickets have been sold.

It also comes after campaigners launched a petition last year to call on the council to reopen the Abbey Hall, closed since 2015. In the longer term the Abbey Hall is set to form part of a new ‘community hub’ in the town.

Oxfordshire County Council, which runs the library, and Abingdon Town Council, unveiled an agreement to work more closely to join up public services within the town earlier this year.