At the same time, the Council has re-confirmed its commitment to making a compulsory purchase order of the site, which includes the stalled Empire Cinema site.
The quarter would be known as Ealing Filmworks. The agreement would see the council acquire the sites, by agreement with the existing owner or if necessary through a CPO and then transfer the land to Land Securities who will reimburse the authority for the full amount. The council has also agreed to sell 14-16 Bond Street – which it already owns – to Land Securities to make up the remainder of the scheme.
Simultaneously, Land Securities submitted its outline planning application for a new multiscreen cinema, cafés, bars, shops and restaurants along with up to 161 flats.
The proposed scheme will create new pedestrianised routes between Walpole Park, the New Broadway and Bond Street as well as a flexible performance area with amphitheatre-style seating and an outdoor screen. Altogether it is hoped the plans will create approximately 350 new jobs.
Any order for a CPO would be made after the planning process has concluded. The cinema could open in late 2017 with the development completed by 2018.
The Empire site has been stalled for some time after Empire demolished the former cinema building and left its facade standing. Empire wanted to vary the planning permission, but a dispute over that has meant there has been no progress. It has been used for surface car parking since.
The council gave Empire Cinemas a series of deadlines backed with the threat of a CPO before selecting Land Securities as a development partner. Empire briefly started work on the site to head off the CPO threat.
The site is currently held by receivers, Allsops, appointed by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation. Land Securities is in discussions with Allsops to negotiate a sale as quickly as possible which would remove the need for a CPO. Allsops had, in April this year, requested a nine-month delay to any CPO to allow them to market the site and obtain a fair price, arguing that the threat of a CPO adversely affected their ability to do that.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “The people of Ealing have waited long enough to see this derelict site brought back to life. We are firmly committed to Land Securities building Ealing’s new cinema quarter and won’t wait a day longer than needed to get this scheme back on track. We hope a negotiated agreement can be reached as quickly as possible but are prepared to use our CPO powers if necessary.”
Land Securities’ Development Director, Nick Davis, added: “This marks a significant milestone for Ealing Filmworks. Both the signing of this agreement and the submission of our planning application represent an important stage in the delivery of Ealing’s long-awaited cinema. We received an overwhelming level of support for the film quarter during our public consultation and are in discussions with various groups on how our flexible, performance area, outdoor screen and gallery can best be used by the local community. We are 100% committed to delivering this scheme, bringing new jobs, footfall and investment to Ealing town centre and look forward to continuing to work with the council and other interested parties throughout the planning process. ”