The site is presently owned by Empire Cinemas, who have been in a long-running planning dispute with the council since being granted planning permission in 2004.
They closed the cinema on the site in 2008 and began work, demolishing most of the existing buildings, while retaining the listed facade, but stopped work when they wanted to vary the plans, but have not been able to agree the revisions with the council.
The resultant planning stalemate has left the site static since. Earlier in the year the council said they would CPO the site, then sell it to a developer whose plans they liked better than Empire’s, and who would make a start on site.
Empire are reported to have recently restarted work on the site, which may be a move designed to frustrate the council’s desire to move the site to a diferent developer.
Land Securities was chosen yesterday ahead of Salmon Harvester with Cineworld, and Wilson Bowden with Barratt. They plan a “cinema quarter” on the two acre site,
“We are firmly committed to Land Securities building Ealing’s new cinema quarter” said Councillor Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council, “We gave Empire every opportunity to build a new cinema and yet four years later the site is still derelict. We are now progressing without them through a compulsory purchase order. With Land Securities on board, we will secure the new cinema that Ealing needs.”
The council wants a mixed-use development that links the cinema with the town centre and Walpole Park. They believe the site has potential for restaurants, retail, residential, cultural industries, art galleries and performance spaces, which will extend south from the cinema towards Ealing Studios creating a new ‘cinema quarter’ for Ealing.
Land Securities Development Director, Nick Davis, said “We think Ealing has great potential and this ‘cinema quarter’ scheme will have a hugely positive effect on the town centre. We look forward to working with the council to ensure that a high quality leisure scheme is delivered which provides the long awaited cinema for the original home of the British film industry.”
Ealing Council is also exploring opportunities to collaborate with Ealing Studios. In addition to high profile blockbusters, some of the highest grossing independent British films have also been made at the studios. The plan is to capitalise on the larger market that the wider mix of films will bring.