|Hopes Raised Once More For Ealing's Cinema|
Permission granted for new cinema but now with fewer screens
The never ending saga of Ealing's cinema has moved a step forward after the council granted outline planning permission for 'Ealing Filmworks'. But the new cinema - which could open in 2017 - is likely to be on a smaller scale than originally proposed.
Land Securities’ - the developers now in charge of the operation - hope to transform the derelict site of the former Empire cinema site (opposite the Town Hall on New Broadway), as well as the area along with 14-16 Bond Street, Walpole House and Flava’s Bar on Mattock Lane, into 'a high-quality leisure destination'.
They say the proposed scheme will open up the site, creating new pedestrianised routes between Walpole Park, New Broadway and Bond Street
Ealing has been without a cinema for almost five years despite repeated requests from the council and local residents for Empire Cinemas to take the project forward.
Empire had said they would build a new 20 screen cinema by 2014 but when work never materialised the council gave them a deadline of October 2012 or face a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).
In December 2012, Ealing Council selected Land Securities as its preferred development partner and announced its intention to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order.
Last night in a lengthy planning meeting outline permission was granted to Land Securities.
Councillor Jon Ball said: '' I welcomed the return of a cinema to central Ealing but said I'm concerned that we could end up with a large scheme with a very small cinema in the middle. I proposed a condition requiring at least 6 screens and at least a total of 1,000 seats. The council's legal officer said this was "quite a pertinent point" but felt it was something that officers could discuss with the applicant rather than imposing a restrictive condition.''
A proposal to defer the scheme to see if it could be modified to retain the facade of the former YMCA was rejected by 9 votes to 4. The committee also agreed an additional condition requiring playspace for families living in the flats.
Land Securities say the plans, which represent an investment of around £100 million, include:
· a multi-screen cinema in the heart of the scheme
· commercial units for shops, restaurants, bars and cafés
· a gallery / community space
· up to 161 new homes including affordable homes
· an outdoor screen
· a flexible performance area with amphitheatre-style seating
Riccardo Mai, Project Director at Land Securities, said: “This is a major step forward in finally delivering a high-quality cinema-led regeneration on this site. We are delighted the committee has recognised the wide-ranging benefits Ealing Filmworks will bring to local residents, shops, restaurants and businesses. We look forward to continuing to work with Ealing Council, residents and other stakeholders to progress the detailed plans.”
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “Getting a new cinema in the town centre will be on many residents’ Christmas wish lists and seeing this project move a step closer is excellent news. The council has been doing everything possible to see this derelict site brought back to life and we are firmly committed to Land Securities building Ealing’s new cinema quarter. We hope agreement can be reached for Land Securities to acquire the sites but if there isn’t we are fully prepared to use our CPO powers."
Chris Wieszczycki, Principal Director at tp bennett and architect of the scheme added: “This is a great opportunity to create a distinctive leisure quarter, celebrating Ealing’s links with the British film industry and it’s wider cultural heritage. We see the square as the real heart of the scheme; creating a focus for urban life, with busy café and restaurant tables spilling out onto the pavements, clustered around a central public space staging street performances and summer cinema projections.”
Land Securities will now progress the detailed design of the proposals and, if required, the CPO, before beginning construction. The cinema could open in late 2017 with the development completed by 2018.
So, what do you think? Discuss on the forum.
19th December 2013