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Save the Regal campaigners back dancefloor destruction
A campaigner has claimed the former owner of Kingston’s listed Regal Cinema “did us a favour” by tearing up the building’s historic flooring.
Richard Harrold, who runs the Facebook campaign Save the Regal, said Franco Lumba’s actions would make it easier to place under floor heating beneath the cinema’s art deco auditorium.
Mr Lumba was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £29,000 in costs in April, after pleading guilty to executing work or alterations to the Grade II listed building between August and October 2010.
But Mr Harrold said the floor would have had to come out anyway, citing the Troxy theatre in London as an example of the restoration work needed.
Mr Harrold, who lives in Leatherhead, said: “In terms of destroying the floor, he’s done us a favour and saved us a job.
“The Troxy in Limehouse had to redo the floor so it was flat, and we’re going to need to do that as well. It could allow us to run underfloor heating or potentially ground-source heat pumps.
“Actually, aside from minor damage to the outer proscenium [the frame around the stage], which is entirely non-structural, Franco Lumba has done us a favour and saved us a hell of a lot of cash.”
Mr Harrold said the campaign seeks to restore the building, built in 1932 by Robert Cromie, to something more akin to its original use.
He has called for a theatre, an alternative cinema, a concert hall, exhibition space and a conference centre, preserving the 2,445-seat auditorium.
Mr Harrold opposes the plans unveiled earlier this year by owner CNM Estates, which is proposing penthouse apartments with the possibility of a boutique cinema, a restaurant and a heritage centre.
Mr Harrold said: “We feel the CNM proposal is insensitive, ill-considered and unjustifiable. “The cinema was built by Robert Cromie and there are not many Cromie cinemas left.”
CNM Estates chairman Wahid Samady said: “I have met Mr Harrold on several occasions and I know he is very passionate about the old cinema becoming a performing arts centre.
“I have said to him if he and his partners could come up with a viable funding proposal then I would be happy to take a look at it.
“I don’t want to exclude any ideas, and nothing would make me happier than a viable proposal to produce arts in Kingston.
“But we have received no such proposal, and given we have provided sufficient time, I can only conclude there are none.”
Save The Regal will hold its founding meeting in New Malden next week.
The meeting will set out goals including fundraising and gaining charity status.
It will be held at the Royal Oak pub in Coombe Road, New Malden on Friday, September 13. Attendees are asked to arrive at 7.15pm for an 8pm start.
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