Theatre groups oppose 'damaging' Kingston Regal Cinema scheme

Plans for the former Regal Cinema building in Richmond Road are being opposed by a trio of conservation groups

Plans for the former Regal Cinema building in Richmond Road are being opposed by a trio of conservation groups

First published in News Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

Three national conservation societies are calling for Kingston Council to reject the latest redevelopment plans for the iconic Regal cinema.

The Cinema Theatre Association, the Theatres Trust and the Twentieth Century Society are all opposing developers CNM Estates’ proposals for the historic Richmond Road building, formerly a Gala Bingo hall.

The groups’ objections are based solely on plans to subdivide the cinema’s art deco auditorium, which they believe will “irreversibly harm” the Grade II listed building.

Eva Branscome, from the Cinema Theatre Association, said: “The Cinema Theatre Association very much wants this fine historic building back in use for the community and is not looking to block the development and mothball.

“There is clearly a need for a large auditorium in Kingston that would suitably and viably meet the demands for assembly, arts and entertainment.

“There is no need to subdivide the Regal cinema into an odd assortment of uses.

“The result is a highly damaging scheme.”

Surrey Comet:

Although the organisations welcome the building being brought back into use, they oppose plans to subdivide the auditorium

CNM Estates submitted its application to the council in February, outlining plans that include an 8,000 square foot penthouse with concierge service, a Curzon cinema, and a restaurant run by a celebrity chef.

But it also claims retaining the 2,400-seater auditorium is financially unviable – and proposes splitting it into several sections.

The 1930s cinema would be divided into a mezzanine lobby bar, a children’s play area and a two or three screen boutique cinema.

The three conservation groups fear that by doing so, important architectural details will be lost forever.

Surrey Comet:

An artist's impression of the new mezzanine levels - with the proscenium arch surrounding the auditorium stage clearly marked

Ross Anthony, planning advisor for the Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres, said: “The excessive and insensitive internal subdivision and reuse of the existing building will damage the architectural integrity and significance of the cinema.

“Many former statutory designated cinemas are converted to other uses - but none, in our experience, are such intolerably subdivided.”

Henrietta Billings, from the Twentieth Century Society, which safeguards British design and architecture from 1914 onwards, added: “The new scheme will cause damage to the special interest of this building and is irreversible.

“In terms of viability, we remain unconvinced that the proposal presented is the only solution for re-using and converting this listed building.

“Overall we consider the cost and damage to the architectural and historical significance of this building to be simply too high.”

Surrey Comet:

CNM Estates' Michael Ross and Wahid Samady on the roof of the Regal Cinema

The organisations are now requesting CNM Estates commissions an independent viability study into keeping the auditorium as a single space.

CNM Estates is yet to respond.

Comments (5)

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8:56am Wed 2 Apr 14

helen59 says...

I hear there will be a 7 storey block of flats at the back of this. Also people should be aware of what they are going to do with the old gas site opposite sainsburys - Kingston is so crowded already - do we really need all of this.
I hear there will be a 7 storey block of flats at the back of this. Also people should be aware of what they are going to do with the old gas site opposite sainsburys - Kingston is so crowded already - do we really need all of this. helen59
  • Score: -1

10:59am Wed 2 Apr 14

norbiton flyer says...

helen59 wrote:
I hear there will be a 7 storey block of flats at the back of this. Also people should be aware of what they are going to do with the old gas site opposite sainsburys - Kingston is so crowded already - do we really need all of this.
Totally agree. So many flats and more ocupants but no substantive changes to the infrastructure which is really starting to strain at the edges. Queues on the roads are getting worse and worse, trains leaving Kingston are starting to get crowded, etc etc. Time for the planners to look at quality not quantity when assessing development.
[quote][p][bold]helen59[/bold] wrote: I hear there will be a 7 storey block of flats at the back of this. Also people should be aware of what they are going to do with the old gas site opposite sainsburys - Kingston is so crowded already - do we really need all of this.[/p][/quote]Totally agree. So many flats and more ocupants but no substantive changes to the infrastructure which is really starting to strain at the edges. Queues on the roads are getting worse and worse, trains leaving Kingston are starting to get crowded, etc etc. Time for the planners to look at quality not quantity when assessing development. norbiton flyer
  • Score: 1

10:07am Thu 3 Apr 14

kingstonpaul says...

With London's population projected to increase by one million over the next ten years, and with the Mayor setting a target of 48,000 new homes a year, expect to see further rampant development development of this kind in Kingston and the wider borough.
With London's population projected to increase by one million over the next ten years, and with the Mayor setting a target of 48,000 new homes a year, expect to see further rampant development development of this kind in Kingston and the wider borough. kingstonpaul
  • Score: 1

3:23pm Thu 3 Apr 14

helen59 says...

kingstonpaul wrote:
With London's population projected to increase by one million over the next ten years, and with the Mayor setting a target of 48,000 new homes a year, expect to see further rampant development development of this kind in Kingston and the wider borough.
why ? - surely the people should have a vote on this. Local services will be depleted and the residents will suffer - especially when they have to put council tax up etc., etc., !!
[quote][p][bold]kingstonpaul[/bold] wrote: With London's population projected to increase by one million over the next ten years, and with the Mayor setting a target of 48,000 new homes a year, expect to see further rampant development development of this kind in Kingston and the wider borough.[/p][/quote]why ? - surely the people should have a vote on this. Local services will be depleted and the residents will suffer - especially when they have to put council tax up etc., etc., !! helen59
  • Score: -2

5:41pm Thu 3 Apr 14

kingstonpaul says...

helen59 wrote:
kingstonpaul wrote:
With London's population projected to increase by one million over the next ten years, and with the Mayor setting a target of 48,000 new homes a year, expect to see further rampant development development of this kind in Kingston and the wider borough.
why ? - surely the people should have a vote on this. Local services will be depleted and the residents will suffer - especially when they have to put council tax up etc., etc., !!
You do have a vote. The opinions of residents can be expressed at the planning approval stages. But obviously the process is loaded in favour of more developments, so as to satisfy the housing shortage.
[quote][p][bold]helen59[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]kingstonpaul[/bold] wrote: With London's population projected to increase by one million over the next ten years, and with the Mayor setting a target of 48,000 new homes a year, expect to see further rampant development development of this kind in Kingston and the wider borough.[/p][/quote]why ? - surely the people should have a vote on this. Local services will be depleted and the residents will suffer - especially when they have to put council tax up etc., etc., !![/p][/quote]You do have a vote. The opinions of residents can be expressed at the planning approval stages. But obviously the process is loaded in favour of more developments, so as to satisfy the housing shortage. kingstonpaul
  • Score: 0

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