Empire Cinema - Legal Action Begins
Council steps in after work abandoned on town centre site
Legal action is to be taken against Empire Cinema after work stopped on its multi-million pound redevelopment in Ealing centre.
The former UGC was demolished in February 2009 (apart from the frontage) but building work on the new 16 screen cinema hasn't started and the site - opposite the Town Hall - has been left in a derelict state.
Last month Ealing Council wrote to the Chief Executive of Empire Cinema, Justin Ribbons, demanding assurances that work be completed within a 'reasonable period' - otherwise the site may be bought by the authority.
The company was given 30 days to reply and the deadline has now gone.
A council spokesperson has told Ealing Today that Empire's Chief Executive has not contacted them:
'' We have not received a reply from the cinema and we are now intending to take legal action.
''The first part of the process is to serve a completion notice, which would mean the company no longer had planning permission for the site, apart from any work they had already carried out.
''We recognise this could be quite a lengthy legal process and the completion notice will have to be approved by the Secretary of State, but we are committed to taking this action to secure the future of this key town centre site."
The site could be bought by the Council under a compulsory purchase order.
Will French, Chair of Save Ealing's Centre says:
'' It would be marvellous to see some progress on the site if it means work can start on a new cinema. The premature demolition of the Empire left us with a gaping eyesore and deprived the Ealing community of its last cinema. This was a disaster for a place whose film studios earned it worldwide fame.''
Robert Gurd, Chairman of Ealing Civic Society said:
'' ‘We welcome the Council getting tough with Empire Cinemas: it has been scandalous that this key town centre site has been left derelict for more than 12 months. However the legal processes involved are long winded with an uncertain outcome which could lead to further delays.
''Ideally, if Empire Cinemas cannot complete the project we would like to see the original plans implemented by another operator so that Ealing can once again have a town centre cinema.’
May 6, 2010