Article published 01/10/2019.
The town of Tunbridge Wells in Kent will, at last, see some activity on the Former ABC Cinema site, come the end of the year. Elysian Residences (with the assistance of Dp9 Planning Consultants), had their amended planning application approved on 11 September 2019 by the Borough Council’s Planning Committee. Work is intended to commence later this year. Mark Curry, Head of Development and Planning at Elysian Residences, commented: “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the local community and new residents, both now and into the future, to bring our development forward and make this new destination a real success for the town.”
As a quick re-cap, permission has been granted for a mixed-use development comprising retail uses, restaurants, a cinema, 108 dwellings, together with car and cycle parking. The amended scheme also incorporates significant highway, footpath, landscaping and public realm improvements. The amendments to the original permission (all of which were classed as ‘minor’) include the removal of office accommodation, alterations to glazing and doors, extensions to the residential areas, changes to the height of the building (although no taller than previously approved), a reduction in the height of the cinema element and the relocation of the ground floor entrance; and alterations to parking, delivery, servicing and access arrangements and also to the public realm and landscaped areas.
The site was originally home in 1934 to the Ritz cinema, billed as “Kent’s most luxurious cinema”, now empty for almost 20 years since the closure of the ABC Cinema in 2000 following the opening of an Odeon at the out-of-town Knight’s Park multiplex. Queuing down Mount Pleasant on a Friday night (usually in the rain!) waiting for the cinema doors to open was, for some readers I’m sure, a memory that will (fondly) live on past all of the gripes about the renowned grot spot that has blighted the town for so long. But with the imminent development of this site, alongside the Calverley Square proposals for the lower end of Mount Pleasant, Royal Tunbridge Wells is set to take the limelight again.