|End of Empire?|
Council seeking to start proceedings to buy derelict and neglected cinema site
Ealing Council has run out of patience with Empire Cinemas and is hoping to start the process of buying the neglected site.
The company (owned by Ward Anderson) demolished the old cinema opposite the Town Hall more than two years ago but no work has started to create the proposed £20million complex featuring 16 screens, a restaurant and café over two floors.
The site has been left a boaded up derelict eyesore and thousands of people signed a petition urging the company to get on with the project.
Despite numerous requests from the Council and local MP Angie Bray, Empire has not been able to say if - or when - building work would get underway.
In February 2011 the Council bought the YMCA on Bond Street to combine this site with the stalled Cinema Scheme on Uxbridge Road to 'deliver a more comprehensive mixed-use scheme'.
Council officers say this opportunity has been offered to the owners of Empire Cinema but to date, there has been no response.
The C.E.O of Empire Justin Ribbons has been asked to attend a scrutiny committee meeting of the Council next week.
Ealing's Council Leader, Julian Bell, says it's time the company showed its cards:
''I'm very frustrated by the lack of progress. Empire have been stalling for time and so we are having to take action through a Compulsory Purchase Order to break this log-jam. Ealing needs a cinema , it's a total crime that with all Ealing's history it doesn't have one.''
A report will go before next week's Cabinet Committee seeking permission for officers to finalise a case for the Compulsory Purchase of the site.
' It is proposed that officers make one final effort to try to engage the owners in discussions concerning the future of the site but that if no significant progress is made that officers prepare a case for the exercise of compulsory purchase powers.'
Robert Gurd, Chairman of Ealing Civic Society is pleased the Council is taking action, he says:
'We would welcome any movement on the cinema site which has been derelict for two and half years.
''Empire has repeatedly broken previous promises that work would start soon and we think the only way to progress matters is for the Council to wrest the site away from them. Having said that, we consider it vitally important that any redevelopment should include a cinema operation.'
Ealing Today has contacted Empire again - but has not yet had any response.
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20th July 2011