Current Prediction

I’ve been closely following “developments” (or, at least, anything that’s been put on the web!) over the last couple of months from the comfort of my sofa. My prediction is this:

  1. Empire will be forced to sell the site within the next few months.
  2. The site will be put up for sale and the most likely buyer is the property giant, Land Securities.
  3. If the site is sold then there is a very good chance that Ealing Council will try and expand the site by adding property on Bond Street and Mattock Lane to increase the total area from 1.15 acres to about 2 acres.
  4. If Ealing do this, then the site will become a media village/cinema quarter

In more detail, the site will most likely be sold as Empire currently have an outstanding loan from the (nationalised?) Irish Bank IBRC who are now very concerned that, if the site is CPOed, then they will not get their money back. They therefore wish to get the Receivers in to take over the site and sell it before any CPO is completed. Last week, Empire went to the High Court to try and stop IBRC but failed. They say they will appeal this decision.

If the site is put up for sale then the highest bidder would probably get the site. This could be Land Securities or it could be another developer. If a different developer purchases the site, then they could just carry on and build the cinema that Empire were going to build (as planning permission has already been granted). If however, a decision to build something different is made, then this would require a new planning application.

By Alan

Cinema Quarter

This post will be updated with new information regarding the Cinema Quarter proposal. It will also mention how this compares to the original Cinema proposal.

  • According to one of the shortlisted developers, the cinema quarter site site could span approximately two acres of land (8,000 m2)
  • The current land owned by Empire spans about 1.15 acres (4,650 m2). The additional 0.85 acres (approx.) would, presumedly, come from the incorporation of the YMCA and UWL sites (TBC).
  • Floor areas of current plan: 3,320 m(ground) + 1,750 m(mezz) + 3,370 m(first level)  + 900 m(second cinema level). Total of 9,350  m(original consented area of 10,300  m2). According to Empire’s planning notes, this “gross internal area” would be 962 m2/ 10,358 ftlower than their earlier plans (due to removal of the basement) but yet would allow 20 screens instead of the original 16.
  • According to the same shortlisted developers, the site could have been redeveloped into a multiplex cinema of up to 40,000 ft2 (4,000 m2) along with 60 residential units and 50,000 ft2 (5,000 m2) of restaurant space. In this scenario, the space for the cinema would most probably be less than Empire’s plans (although Empire’s plans do include space for eating).
By Alan

Memorable Dates

Note: Some of these dates need to be confirmed

  • 1934
    • 23 April – Ealing Forum Theatre opens. The opening film was “Love, Life & Laughter” starring Gracie Fields made in Ealing Studios. The cinema’s opening ceremony was performed by stage and screen star Jack Buchanan
  • 1961
    • Renamed ABC (further name changes include Cannon, MGM, UGC, Cineworld and Empire)
  • 1968
    • Cafeteria is closed
  • 1975
    • March – closed by ABC for tripling
    • 26 June – Reopens with three screens
  • 2003
    • Cinema assessed for listing in 2003 by English Heritage but turned down
    • Certificate of immunity put on the building, which was the UGC, and meant the building could not be listed over the next five years
    • Initial planning applications submitted
  • 2004
  • 2006
    • December – came under the ownership of Empire Cinemas
  • 2008
    • 5-6 September – The Empire Cinema was closed
    • November – New plans submitted by Empire
  • 2009
    • February – Majority of the Cinema is demolished. Listed Facade is retained
    • 10 february – certificate of immunity expired although building already demolished so no future assessment for listing possible
    • October – Empire blame delays on Ealing Planning (aim to have cinema finished by Summer 2011)
  • 2010
    • May – Council demand a completion date
    • November – Spaces are cleared on site for a temporary car park.
    • 24 November – an ePetition is set up demanding the cinema be rebuilt
    • 26 December – ePetition raises 3,300 signatures
  • 2011
    • 25 January – Ealing residents push for a Film Club in Ealing Town Hall
    • February – Council purchase the adjacent YMCA on Bond Street and the remaining area occupied by the University of West London
    • March 2011 -Angie Bray MP asks Empire for a timetable of work
    • 25 July 2011 – Ealing Council mention the possibility of putting a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the Ealing cinema site
    • July 2011 – Empire blame delays on misunderstandings with Ealing planning. Julian Bell mentions that ‘minor’ planning variations include a four metre increase in height to the building. Ealing Council’s preferred outcome is still for Empire to proceed
    • Summer 2011 – Empire decline to consider the YMCA plot in a wider, all-encompassing scheme. Empire refuse to sell their plot
    • 9 August 2011 – Ealing Riots
    • October 2011 – Original planning application expiry date
    • Autumn/November – Ealing Council agree modified planning application (16 to 20 screens?)
    • Late 2011 – Justin Ribbons, chief executive of Empire Cinemas promised construction would continue within six weeks of Ealing Council signing off changes to the plans
    • December – Ealing Council agree minor amendments to the proposed work
  • 2012
    • 26 January – Angie Bray MP writes to Empire demanding to know why work has still not started despite previous assurances
    • 25 July – Cabinet Meeting agrees to instruct lawyers to apply for a CPO to acquire the land from Empire
    • 5 October – Ealing Council begin six-week consultation period with potential developers
    • Early November – Ealing Council shortlist three parties including Barratt and Wilson, Bowden Land Securities, Salmon Harvester, and Cineworld
    • 16 November – Consultation finishes
    • December – Ealing Council declare Land Securities the winner
  • 2013
    • 22 January – Ealing Council Cabinet agree to CPO the site from Empire Cinema

And into the future (some not-too-serious predictions!):

  • 2014
    • March – The date Empire said (in December 2012) that they could have the cinema finished by (they also said they could finish it by 2011 back in 2009)
  • 2015
    • Early 2015 – Date suggested by David Millican that the CPO may take to be completed (ie. two years)
  • 2016
    • Possible year that the Cinema is completed (if not before)
  • 2017
    • Possible year that Land Securities complete the Cinema Quarter (based on the CPO taking two years to complete!)
  • 2018
    • Surely everything will be finished by now … won’t it?
  • 2019
    • Crossrail should be up and running by this year!
By Alan

Ealing Council Cabinet Report: 25th July 2012

25th July 2012

EMPIRE CINEMAS: AN UNCOMPLETED DEVELOPMENT

http://www.ealinginlondon.com/docs/Cabinet-Report-25thJuly2012-Appendix_1.pdf

Redevelopment proposals for a new cinema on this site in the heart of Ealing have been long mooted. Planning permission for such a scheme was first sought in November 2003.

Empire Cinemas closed its Ealing cinema on September 2008 and demolished the cinema in February 2009 for redevelopment, retaining the front facade. Development had therefore begun in accordance with the planning permission but was halted in March 2009. The Council unsuccessfully, via formal notice, sought completion in May 2010. Some further development was undertaken in November 2010 but again works were halted.

No significant progress had been made on the development by July 2011 and the Council indicated intent to pursue a compulsory purchase of the site. At a Council meeting attended by Empire Cinemas CEO Justin Ribbons on 28th June 2011, Mr. Ribbons responded to the council’s complaints, saying that the delay was caused by a “misunderstanding between Empire and Council planning officers”. At a later meeting between Justin Ribbons and the Council on 14th September 2011, Mr. Ribbons said that he was “optimistic that work could re-start before Christmas”.

Construction work on the site has not yet started, three years after the cinema’s demolition.

Read full Cabinet report

By Alan

Demolition in February 2009

Feb 20 2009 Ealing Gazette

Hot topic: our cinema heritage

http://www.ealinggazette.co.uk/ealing-news/letters-to-the-editor/2009/02/20/hot-topic-our-cinema-heritage-64767-22967129/

Many thanks for publishing Mr Gurd’s letter about the Empire Ealing. I would like to add some more about this cinema.

The building was assessed for listing in 2003 by English Heritage but was turned down. One of the reasons was that the Forum in Kentish Town was more of the original building.

I wonder what Kentish Town has got to do with Ealing. The building had been in Ealing 75 years serving the public.

The ex-Granadas are still standing – one in Kingston is Port nightclub and the other in Harrow is now Gold’s Gym, both with interiors by Theodore Komi.

As with all Granadas the interiors are just the same. Both are listed Grade II, why not Ealing?

In 2003 a certificate of immunity was put on the building, which was the UGC and means the building could not be listed for five years.

It expired on February 10, 2009. Then another assessment could have been made for listing, but of course the damage has been done now with a quick demolition before February 10, apart from the facade.

As Mr Gurd wrote, this building could have had other uses; the interior walls could have all been removed to make one large space with full stage facilities, for example.

But does Ealing need a multiplex cinema with no car park? If so, will some of the fittings from the Empire be in the new multiplex?

Some of these old cinemas were listed or upgraded to Grade II or, as with the Tooting Gala, Grade I. How was the Empire not listed then?

English Heritage listed the Gala Bingo club (ex-Granada Dominion Acton), which in my opinion is not up to the standard the Empire was.

M GAMBLES

Chiswick W4

** I WAS very pleased that Gordon Kemp wrote to you last week about his memories of the opening day of the Forum Cinema in 1934.

It is well documented that the cinema had a dance floor in the first floor cafeteria (behind the front columns) together with a stage which accommodated a small orchestra.

The cafeteria had its own separate entrance off the street, and tea dances were held in both the afternoon and evening; it closed in 1968.

The cinema’s opening ceremony was performed by stage and screen star Jack Buchanan, who is shown second right in the photograph above (courtesy LBE), with the owner Herbert Yapp and others.

Included in the opening programme was a film of the cinema’s construction (which survives to this day) as well as a new film produced at the nearby Ealing Studios starring Gracie Fields called Love, Life and Laughter.

ROBERT C GURD

Chairman, Ealing Civic Society

By Alan

Ealing Cinema: News articles (2000-2012)

The aim of this post is to collect together links to relevant news articles over the last few years…

April 2009

ECS Newsletter article: Demolition of the Empire (ex-Forum) Cinema, Ealing

http://www.ealingcivicsociety.org/news/downloads/ECS-newsletter-32-spring2009.pdf

Many of you passing through Ealing town centre will have seen the demolition of the former Empire Cinema earlier this year prior to its planned redevelopment as a 15-screen cinema. The Society tried on several occasions to get the cinema listed but failed, apparently because its sister theatre in Kentish Town, also designed by John Stanley Beard, is already Grade II listed and remains undivided whereas Ealing was ‘tripled’ with loss of many interior features in 1975.

However, a condition of the demolition was that a full photographic record of its interior should be carried out (by the Museum of London). Some of the cinema’s features such as panelled doors, handles and balustrades have been salvaged for reuse in the Kentish Town Forum where these have been lost over the years. The cinema once had a Compton organ (manufactured in Park Royal) but this was moved to Wormwood Scrubs in the early 1960s and is believed still to be playable. It is sad that this fine building has been demolished in its 75th year, not only because of its historic interest and design qualities but also because it was originally built as a theatre with full stage facilities, together with a café and dance floor – all things which Ealing could do with today.

May 2009

Cinema Treasures

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/3772

Located in the West London district of Ealing. The Forum Theatre was one of two near identical Forum Theatre’s which were built for Herbert Yapp in 1934 (the other is the Forum Theatre, Kentish Town in the north of London) and both were taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) within a year of opening.

Designed by J. Stanley Beard & Clare both had almost identical facades dominated by eight tall columns with a double row of windows between the inner six. Each theatre seated 2,175 on two levels and each had a large stage with fully equipped fly tower.

The Ealing Forum Theatre was the first to open on 23 April 1934, and its interior has a spacious Classical style design with a wide 46 foot rectangular proscenium opening. It was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/9Ranks organ.

It was renamed ABC in 1961, and has undergone many name changes since then (Cannon, MGM, ABC, UGC, and Cineworld, Empire).

Under ABC control it closed in March 1975 for tripling, reopening 26th June 1975 with 764 seats in screen 1 (the former circle) and 417 seats and 210 seats in screens 2 and 3 (the divided stalls).

From December 2006 it came under the ownership of Empire Cinemas, UK. The seating capacities were: 1. 550, 2. 330 and 3. 170. It was a popular cinema in good condition, showing first run films. The Empire Cinema was closed on 6th September 2008. The auditorium and foyer areas were demolished in early-2009, and a new 16-screen multiplex cinema for Empire Cinemas is planned to be built behind the original facade. It is also planned that the original facade of the former Walpole Cinema, Ealing will be incorporated into the design of the new multiplex. By April 2012, work has not begun on the rebuild, and the original facade stands shored up supported by scaffold.

The Forum/ABC/Empire Cinema’s sister cinema, the Forum, Kentish Town, survives as a concert venue and is basically unaltered (Listed Grade II). Some original wooden doors from the Forum/ABC/Empire Ealing were saved, as were pieces of plasterwork. The doors will be installed in the Forum Kentish Town, replacing ones lost in that building over the years.

comments in this article include:

LouiseC on May 5, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Still no progress on this cinema other than the frontage being preserved; apparently the council (who are based in the building opposite) have now demanded a completion date for the work to be done.

keiths on May 6, 2010 at 1:14 am

The original planning approval was dependent on the developers being able to guarantee completion of the project, so this doesn’t surprise me at all. My only concern about the whole thing concerns parking in the Ealing area – becoming virtually non-existent – so where 16 screens worth of punters are going to go is a bit of a puzzle!

blink on April 18, 2012 at 2:35 am

Alas, Empire Cinemas have still not started work on re-building Ealing’s cinema after closing it nearly 4 years ago for “re-building”. It remains the sad pile of rubble in my avatar photo here.

Ealing residents have started a petition to encourage the council to put pressure on Empire to start work, or to pursue compulsory purchase of the cinema site if Empire won’t start work.

Please could you support the campaign by signing the petition: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/saveealingcinema

October 15, 2009

Ealing Cinema The Vision and The Reality

http://www.ealingtoday.co.uk/default.asp?section=info&page=eacinema09001.htm

It was granted planning approval five years ago but Ealing’s new cinema is still no more than a facade held up by scaffolding.

The former UGC closed to the public in September last year and was demolished in February 2009 (apart from the frontage) but building work on the new 16 screen cinema has still not started.

Ealing Today forum member Susan Kelly contacted Empire back in August and was told that building work would be started ‘as soon as is practicable’.

Two months later the site remains the same.

Spokesman Jon Nutton told Ealing Today, ” The development is in progress. We are still awaiting the council to confirm a number of the conditions on the planning permission are satisfied. We hope to have a team on site shortly to complete the architectural survey required before work starts in earnest.”

Ealing Council says it has no further involvement in the project, so the delay remains a mystery.

The construction industry has undoubtedly taken a battering in the recession, a recent review by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (Cips) found activity in this sector was still suffering as many firms continue to struggle to keep their heads above water.

Could the recession be to blame?

Empire cinemas remain tight lipped nevertheless Mr Nutton is optimistic. Although there is no firm start date for work to begin he remains hopeful the cinema will be complete by summer 2011.

Some Cinema History

Originally opened in 1934 as The Forum Cinema – built to the designs of John Stanley Beard who was also the architect for the Walpole Picture House in Bond Street (demolished in 1981 but the entrance arch survives on the side of the first house in Mattock Lane).

The classical style of the frontage was a reaction to the modernistic style often associated with Odeon cinemas of the period.

The opening film was “Love, Life & Laughter” starring Gracie Fields made in Ealing Studios.

Ealing Civic Society tried on several occasions to get the building listed but failed because its sister theatre in Kentish Town, also designed by John Stanley Beard, was already Grade II listed.

A condition of the demolition was that a full photographic record of its interior should be carried out (by the Museum of London). Some of the cinema’s features such as panelled doors, handles and balustrades have been salvaged for reuse in the Kentish Town Forum where these have been lost over the years.

The cinema once had a Compton organ (manufactured in Park Royal) but this was moved to Wormwood Scrubs in the early 1960s and is believed still to be playable.

October 15, 2009

Nov 5 2009 By Paloma Kubiak, Ealing Gazette

Cinema complex work will restart

http://www.ealinggazette.co.uk/ealing-news/local-ealing-news/2009/11/05/cinema-complex-work-will-restart-64767-25101046/

DOUBT has been cast over the redevelopment of a multi-million pound cinema complex in Ealing after work on the site stopped shortly after the new year.

Plans were submitted in November 2008 to demolish a majority of the former UGC Cinema on Uxbridge Road and develop a two-level, 16 screen complex with a restaurant and café, costing £20million.

But after the demolition work was carried out and the eight columns at the front of the cinema were stabilised earlier this year, the construction site has been deserted and the public left frustrated with the lack of progress.

Tony Miller, of the Ealing Civic Society, said: “It’s a bit of a concern as no-one really knows what is happening and in the meantime it’s standing there just as a shell.

“The rubble has not been cleared and it’s a building site without a building which doesn’t contribute to the attraction of the town centre.

“We’re nearly at the end of 2009 and it can’t keep dragging on forever as we are left without a cinema, leisure facilities and an important public amenity in Ealing.”

Mike Tiley of Save Ealing Centre, said it was important to have a cinema in the town centre as there is a lack of leisure complexes in the Broadway.

Mr Tiley said: “We would all like to see a good cinema keeping the best of the old and the new style in Ealing. There is a shortage of leisure facilities and as this development will take a long time to build, the sooner they get on with it, the better.”

A spokesman for Empire Cinemas, said: “We can appreciate concerns over the seeming lack of progress with the rebuilding of the new Empire cinema at Ealing, but we are still committed to the site and development is in progress.

“Behind the scenes we are working very hard on making it happen. Since the initial scheme was proposed, cinema has evolved, particularly the use of digital projection and this allows us to utilise the space that a projection room would previously have taken up, and as such, we are redesigning the internal layout of the auditoriums to accommodate this.

“We have also been waiting on a number of conditions on the planning permissions to be satisfied, which have now been resolved.”

A team is preparing to conduct an architectural survey before work restarts and the projected completion date is set for summer 2011.

26 November 2010

Developers give assurance over Ealing cinema

http://www.ealinggazette.co.uk/ealing-news/local-ealing-news/2010/11/26/developers-give-assurance-over-ealing-cinema-64767-27724463/

27 November 2010

Ealing’s Cinema – No Laughing Matter

http://www.ealingtoday.co.uk/default.asp?section=info&page=eaempire005.htm

The news that work was finally starting on the derelict Empire Cinema site was swiftly quashed today (Thursday 25th November).

It would appear – although there has been no confirmation from owners Empire Cinema – that the work currently underway is to level the ground in preparation for ….a car park.

Council Leader Julian Bell responded to requests for information on the social network site twitter today :

”I am checking with officers but it would only be a temporary car park if that is what they are doing at the moment.”

The former UGC on the Broadway was demolished in February 2009 (apart from the frontage) to make way for a new 16 screen cinema but the remains of the building – opposite the Town Hall – have been left boarded up.

Five months ago Ealing Council began legal action to try and force the owners – Empire- to complete the work within a ‘reasonable period’.

Local residents are angry with the delay and Kuldeep Brar has set up an online petitionwhich has the backing of Council Leader Bell. She says:

”Ealing and film go together like Wimbledon and tennis.

“From the long history of Ealing Studios, which created the Ealing Comedies and 100s of other classics to the Art Deco original Ealing Cinema, where locals would flock to get a taste of movie glamour, Ealing is the place for watching film.

“It hasn’t been for a long time due to neglect, but it once was, and should be again. Instead, Empire apparently wants to turn movie magic into a car park graveyard.

“We’ve been patient, we’ve seen the once glorious Art Deco theatre slowly crumble with neglect, but we still went to the movies.

“It’s been torn down to little more than a pile of rubble and we’re waiting for the cinema that was promised.”

More than six hundred people have already signed the petition and it’s expected many more will continue to do so.

The developers have reportedly given reassurances that the cinema project is progressing as per planning permission, however Ealing Today has contacted Empire on numerous occasions and had no response or confirmation that this is the case.

27 November 2010

2009/10

Ex-Empire Cinema

http://www.ealingcivicsociety.org/news/newsarchive.html

The former Empire Cinema site remains cleared except for the facade with its supporting scaffolding and an unsightly pile of rubble at the rear. There has been some movement on the future of this site. It seems as if the recession has taken its toll on the original plans of Empire Cinemas (owned by an Irish cinema chain) and work was stopped in its tracks following demolition of all but the façade in early 2009. The Council, to its credit, has served a ‘completion notice’ on Empire Cinemas but it is not clear whether this will force their hand. In any case the notice is just the start of what could be a lengthy legal process. Ultimately the Council could buy the site by compulsory purchase if Empire Cinemas do not proceed but it is not clear where the money would come from. There are unconfirmed rumours that Empire are trying to sell the site to another operator. We would support this if it enabled the proposed cinema development to go ahead.

By Alan

Ealing Cabinet meeting on 22nd January 2013: Full paper for cabinet

The full paper for the cabinet meeting can be accessed as a Word document at http://www.ealing.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/1918/item_20-ealing_cinema_site-redevelopment-compulsory_purchase_order%C2%A0%E2%80%A6

The contents of the Word Document are included below:

Report for:ACTION
Item Number:20
Contains Confidential or Exempt Information Yes (part)Appendix 1 is exempt from disclosure by virtue of para 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (see para 10.4 (3) of the Access to Information Procedure Rules)

Title

Ealing  Cinema Site – Redevelopment CPO

Responsible Officer(s)

Pat Hayes – Director Regeneration and Housing

Author(s)

Lucy Taylor – Assistant Director Regeneration and Planning Policy
Portfolio(s) Regeneration – Cllr Julian Bell

For Consideration By

Cabinet

Date to be considered

January 22nd 2013

Implementation Date if Not Called In

4th February 2013

Affected Wards

Ealing Broadway

Keywords/Index

Ealing Cinema, Empire, CPO Compulsory Purchase Order, Land Securities,
Purpose of Report:To update Cabinet on progress in selection of a developer partner to take forward the acquisition and redevelopment of the Ealing Cinema site and to seek authority to proceed (by compulsory purchase if necessary).
  1. 1.             Recommendations

 

That Cabinet:

1.1.            Note and endorse the decision to select Land Securities as a developer to work with the Council to acquire the Empire cinema site and land surrounding (‘the Ealing Cinema Site’) and to develop a scheme including a cinema.

1.2.            Agree the boundary for the land to be acquired, if necessary by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), as set out in Appendix 2.

1.3               Authorise the Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration to amend the boundary of the land to be acquired as appropriate once the details of the final scheme are known

1.4            Authorise the Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration to take all necessary steps to make the CPO and secure its confirmation by the Secretary of State as soon as Land Securities have entered into an indemnity agreement to cover Council costs.

  1. 2.             Reason for recommendation and options considered

 

2.1            Ealing Town Centre has been without a cinema since September 2008 when Empire Cinemas closed the Ealing Cinema.  The site, within the Ealing Town Centre Conservation Area has lain derelict since the demolition of most of the cinema building in February 2009.  Since that time the front elevation has been supported with an unsightly steel structure and the failure of the owner to complete the development within a reasonable timescale is significantly undermining the Council’s efforts to regenerate the Town Centre.

2.2            On 25th July 2012, Cabinet agreed to commence action to acquire the site, either by agreement or through compulsory purchase.  Cabinet authorised the Executive Director of Regeneration and Housing to select a developer partner to work with the Council to acquire the site and to undertake a scheme for redevelopment that will provide a cinema in Ealing Town centre.

2.3            Some activity has been noted at the site in the last two months.  In the Cabinet report of July 25th 2012, and confirmed in correspondence with Empire, the Council set a deadline of 23rd October 2012 for commencement of works and evidence of a full construction contract being let.  At the time of writing this report this has not been provided by Empire and, based on previous conduct,  the Council is concerned that Empire are undertaking minimal works which can be stopped at any time and that there is no evidence of commitment to undertake  the construction.

  1. 3.             Key implications

Selection of the developer

 

3.1            The Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration has, with other officers and its advisors Cushman and Wakefield,  undertaken a process to select a developer partner to acquire the Ealing Cinema Site  and to develop a scheme including a cinema.  The process involved:

  • Advertisement in Estates Gazette September 2012
  • Expressions of Interest by 19th October 2012.
  • Shortlisted 1st November 2012.
  • Second Stage selection submission 7th December 2012.
  • Interviews 11th and 14th December 2012.
  • Selection meeting 18th December.

3.2            There were 11 initial expressions of interest and 3 shortlisted parties:

  • Barrett Developments plc and Wilson Bowden
  • Land Securities
  • Salmon Harvester and Cineworld

3.3            The proposals were considered against the following criteria:

  • Development expertise, comparable experience and financial resource
  • The financial parameters and envisaged terms
    • Understanding of the Councils objectives in line with the Ealing Cinema Site SPD and guidelines as set out in the November 2012 financial brief (C&W).
    • Schematic design thinking
    • Provisional programme and strategy for implementation of the development.
    • Potential viability as envisaged in the submissions.

3.4            Land Securities were considered to have submitted the best proposal as judged against these criteria and, following consultation with the Leader, the Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration selected them as preferred bidder.  Confidential Appendix 1 – Developer Selection Report by Cushman and Wakefield – sets out the results of the shortlisted process including financial information.

3.5             The next steps are for Land Securities to enter into an agreement with the Council to indemnify the Council in respect of all costs associated with the process of acquiring the land and developing a scheme.  Following this the Council will make preparations for a  CPO  and Land Securities will commence the design of a scheme for submission of a planning application.

3.6            Current position with Empire

Throughout this process the Council has kept Empire informed of its actions and intentions.  Correspondence has been exchanged with Empire’s Chief Executive and between respective lawyers.  There have also been meetings on a monthly basis with a project manager from Clarkebond, Empire’s project management company.  A further meeting is scheduled for Friday 11th January and Cabinet will be updated of any further information made available at that meeting.

3.7            Empire have recently written to the Council stating they have undertaken some activity on site, including serving party wall notices, tree surveys, site preparation and test piling.  They have also recently submitted a Building Control Notice application for the shell and core and to approve piling and fire strategy.  They have also stated MidGard have been appointed as contractors to undertake test piling (which appears to have been undertaken in the week of 17th-21st December) and full piling scheduled to be undertaken between Jan-March 2013.

3.8            However, no evidence has been provided of a full construction contract having been let.  As a result officers do not consider that there is evidence providing sufficient confidence at this stage that Empire will complete this development.  The Statement of Reasons supporting a CPO is being prepared and will be submitted for Cabinet approval before a final decision to proceed is made and  once Land Securities have signed the indemnity agreement with the Council.

 

3.9            Current position with other landowners

Officers have also written to the landowners of the surrounding sites which form part of the wider Ealing Cinema Site as shown on the plan in Appendix 2  and who therefore may  also be affected by any CPO..  One landowner, the freeholder of Walpole House in Bond Street, has written objecting to any forthcoming CPO.  The main concern is that their land may not be needed to achieve a cinema.  The owner was invited to make representations on the draft Supplementary Planning Document that the Council has prepared in relation to the Cultural Quarter, including the Ealing Cinema Site, which sets outs the planning policy requirements for the whole site and the Council’s aspirations as outlined below.

3.10            Planning Policy

Since the 2004 UDP the Council has continued to develop and set out planning policy aspirations for a cinema and cultural quarter.  The delay in the Empire Cinema development has provided an opportunity for the Council to develop its regeneration and planning policy position in relation to this part of the town centre particularly in the context of the emerging developments elsewhere in the town centre. These include the redevelopment of Dickens Yard, the Arcadia site and the confirmation of CrossRail as a scheme with a station at Ealing Broadway.  It is considered that the planning policy has now evolved to the extent that it provides a justification in planning terms for the re-provision of a cinema as part of a redevelopment of a wider site forming part of the ‘cultural quarter’ of the Town Centre.

3.11            Development Strategy DPD (adopted April 2012)

The adopted Development Strategy sets out the strategic policy direction for the revitalisation of Ealing Metropolitan Town Centre in Policy 2.5, including the need to provide for a cinema in the town centre. These strategic policies are based on the Ealing Town Centre Spatial Development Framework.

3.12            Development Sites DPD Final Proposals (June 2012)

The Cinema Site is included as EAL6, with the proposed allocation as ‘mixed use development appropriate to the town centre, including multiscreen cinema, retail, commercial and residential’. The Design Principles also support the inclusion of additional arts and cultural uses, studios/flexible office space and community uses, and the creation of a new public space in the centre of the site. The allocation directs that achieving better integration of Ealing Green/Walpole Park should be a key outcome of proposals on the site, which should be reflected in the arrangement of new buildings. The site boundary is altered from the Initial Proposals to exclude 26-42 Bond Street, as this permission has been fully implemented.

The LDF Advisory Committee approved the Final Proposals document at the 22 March 2012 meeting, with public consultation beginning in late June. The Final Proposals include only those development sites which are considered central to delivering the policies and objectives of the Development Strategy DPD.  Based on the consultation responses received on the Final Proposals, and the publication of the Draft Ealing Cinema SPD, minor revisions are suggested to EAL6 in the version of the DPD submitted to the Secretary of State for examination. The revisions clarify the relationship of the site allocation to the SPD and remove the reference to the extant planning permission in the Design Principles to ensure the allocation is deliverable; the Council considers that the extant permission, submitted as it was over ten years ago under a different (largely absent) policy context and within a much different town centre context, would not satisfy the design principles for the site nor realise the full potential of the site.

3.13             Ealing Cinema SPD

The Council considered that a Supplementary Planning Document for the Ealing Cinema site was necessary due to the lack of progress on the site and the critical role the site plays in achieving one of the key objectives for the town centre, and the long-standing local support for an enlivened cinema/film quarter in this location. The draft Ealing Cinema SPD which went out for consultation in October 2012 establishes clear design objectives for those bringing forward proposals on the cinema site and demonstrates the need for connected thinking in terms of the site and about the necessary requirements for redevelopment proposals, particularly the design principles which are considered central to ensuring that the full potential of the area is realised.

3.14   On the basis of the current planning policy position as outlined above officers do not consider that there is any planning impediment to securing planning permission for the wider scheme. It will be a term of the development agreement with Land Securities that any proposal should be consistent with relevant planning policy

3.15   The Compulsory Purchase Order process

Cabinet first authorised officers to proceed with preparation of a case for a CPO in July 2012 given the lack of progress on site since the demolition of the cinema in February 2009 and the development of planning policy in relation to the wider site as outlined above. The Council has, however continued to give the owners of the Empire site every opportunity to demonstrate that they are committed to building a new cinema.  That assurance has yet to be provided and officers therefore remain of the view that a CPO may be necessary to secure redevelopment of the site

3.16   In proposing that the Council should continue to proceed with preparations for a CPO officers have had regard to the relevant guidance (OPDM 06/2004) relating to CPOs, particularly those made pursuant to s226 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 .

3.17   In particular officers are satisfied that

  1. The purpose for which the land is being acquired fits in with the adopted planning framework including the Core Strategy adopted in April 2012. The proposal also fits in with:
  • the emerging draft DPD which went out to consultation in June 2012 and is due to be submitted for Examination in Public in January 2012 and
  • the draft SPD which went out to consultation in October 2012

Further details are outlined in paragraphs 3.11 to 3.14 above.

  1. The proposed purpose will contribute to the achievement of the promotion or improvement of the economic, social or environmental well-being of the area. This is on the basis that the proposal outlined by Land Securities as part of their bid will provide a much needed cinema complex to replace the original cinema and remove the current eyesore which has existed since the demolition of the cinema in February 2009. A new cinema complex and associated facilities is expected to improve the night time economy in particular and also reprovide a much missed social venue for residents. The lack of a cinema in Ealing is seriously undermining the Council’s efforts to regenerate the Town Centre.
  1. By selecting Land Securities as a developer of a new scheme officers are confident that the funding will be available to secure the implementation of the proposals.  Land Securities have already demonstrated to officers that they have the necessary development expertise, experience and financial resource as part of the selection process (as outlined in Confidential Appendix 1) and will shortly demonstrate their commitment to redevelopment by entering into an indemnity agreement and then a development agreement.
  1. Given the lack of progress by the owners of the Empire site over a considerable period and the evolution of the Council’s planning policy relating as outlined above, officers remain of the view that the wider redevelopment of the Empire site and surrounding area cannot realistically be achieved by any other means. Once the indemnity agreement has been entered into Land Securities will be working up designs for a planning application having regard to the suitability of alternative locations consistent with planning policy. A further report will be submitted for consideration by Cabinet outlining the proposals in more detail before a final decision to make a CPO is made.

4       Financial

 

4.1   The fees associated with identifying and securing a developer partner are £45,000. These fees will need to be borne by the Council and will be met from the Property Advice revenue budget.

4.2   Should it prove necessary to proceed with a compulsory purchase of the site, it is anticipated that a budget of circa £250, 000 will be required to promote the order. The Council will secure an indemnity from Land Securities for these costs and for the full compensation payable to the present site owner/s, as was clearly set out in the selection process.

5.        Legal

5.1   The Council has powers under s226 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 to acquire compulsorily any land in their area if the Council considers that the acquisition will facilitate the carrying out of a development, re-development or improvement on, or in relation to, the land and also considers that this will help to promote or improve the economic, social or environmental well-being of the area.

5.2    A final decision to proceed with compulsory purchase will be taken only once  an indemnity agreement is in place and only if the site cannot be acquired by agreement.

 

5.3   Human Rights

5.3.1   A compulsory purchase order should only be made where there is a compelling case in the public interest. Before making a final decision to proceed with a CPO Cabinet should be satisfied that the purposes for which the order is to me made sufficiently justify interfering with the human rights of those with an interest in the land affected. Regard should be had in particular to the provisions of Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights which states

“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and the general principles of international law. The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of the state to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest….”

5.3.2 Although the Council is entitled to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest Cabinet should be satisfied that the exercise of CPO powers is proportionate and is justified in order to secure economic, social or environmental well being

5.3.2 If a CPO is made landowners will have an opportunity to make an objection and have an opportunity to be heard by a person appointed by the Secretary of State before a decision is made as to whether the Order should be confirmed

5.4     Under section 233 of the 1990 Act the Council has powers to dispose of land that is held by the Council for planning purposes.

5.5   This report provides information which shows that there is a compelling case for a CPO in the public interest. The Council has clearly set out how it intends to use the land affected by the CPO.  In addition this report demonstrates that the necessary resources are available and the basis on which it is considered that that there are no planning impediments to the proposed redevelopment and that the of the preparations for a  compulsory purchase order are not premature.

6.     Value for money

6.1      The Council has made significant investment into the regeneration and improvement of Ealing Town Centre.  The derelict cinema site is blighting this part of the town centre.  An attractive new development incorporating a cinema and creating the Cultural Quarter will attract new investment into Ealing town Centre.

7.      Sustainability Impact Appraisal

7.1     By partnering with a developer the Council will have greater input into the design standards that will apply to new development. The aim will be to secure new buildings to meet a BREEAM rating of very good.

8.   Risk management

 

8.1   There is a risk that the Council and Land Securities may not be successful in acquiring the Ealing Cinema Sites either by agreement or through a CPO if Empire commence significant construction works on site.

8.2     The Council has taken legal advice and believes the legal case for the CPO is strong.  This will be continually reviewed with Land Securities who will fund all Council costs associated with the process.  However until the indemnity agreement is signed the Council is at risk of costs for the legal and other fees currently being incurred.

9.   Community Safety

9.1   None.

10.      Links to the 5 Priorities for the Borough

10.1  Delivery of the cinema will complement the Council’s priorities for the borough and contribute to the vitality of Ealing Town Centre including securing new jobs and homes.

11.   Equalities, Human Rights and Community Cohesion

11.1    An initial equalities impact assessment has been undertaken and it has been concluded that a full Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) is not required.

12.   Staffing/Workforce and Accommodation implications

12.1   None.

13.   Property and Assets

13.1   The Council acquired the YMCA Building on Bond Street with the specific intention of offering the site to Empire Cinemas in order to improve the viability of a development scheme consistent with planning policy. They chose not to acquire this site from the Council.  The Council will therefore offer the YMCA building to Land Securities to facilitate any proposed development scheme.  It is anticipated that the Council will, as a minimum, recover its costs related to the acquisition of this building.

 

 

14.   Any other implications:

 

14.1   The Property Strategy has been prepared alongside the Council’s Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which is an important part of the Local Development Framework, so that the two pieces of work support each other.

15.      Consultation

15.1   The Ealing Cinema Draft Supplementary Planning Document was prepared in September 2012 and consulted upon between October and November 2012.

16.      Timetable for Implementation

  • Feb 2013 – Indemnity Agreement with Land Securities signed
  • March 2013 – Further Cabinet report to confirm CPO and Statement of Reasons

17.   Appendices

 

Confidential Appendix 1 - Report by Cushman and Wakefield detailing the selection process for a developer partner

Appendix 2 – CPO plan

18   Background Information

 

  • Cabinet report 25th July 2012 – Empire Cinema, 59-61 New Broadway, Ealing
  • ODPM 06/2004
  • Ealing Cinema draft SPD October 2012
  • Draft Development Sites DPD June 2012
  • Adopted (Core) Strategy April 2012
  • Ealing Town centre Strategy October 2004
  • Adopted UDP  Sites & Areas October 2004
  • UDP SPG Site 60 October 2004

 

  1. 1.      Internal Consultation
Name of consultee Department Date sent to consultee Date response received from consultee Comments appear in report para:

Internal

Pat Hayes Exec Director Regeneration and Housing
Cllr Julian Bell Leader
Jackie Adams Head of Legal (Property & Regulatory)
Matthew Bunyon Head of Finance

External

Report History

Decision type:
Urgency item? No
Key decision
Authorised by Cabinet member: Date report drafted: Report deadline: Date report sent:
Report no.: Report author and contact for queries:
Lucy Taylor – Assistant Director of Regeneration and Planning Policy
By Alan

Ealing Council Cabinet Meeting (22nd January 2013): Link to Supplementary Information for Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday, 22nd January 2013

Link to Supplementary Information for Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday, 22nd January 2013 (Appendix 3, Agenda Item No: 20, Report: Ealing Cinema Site- Compulsory Purchase Order). Note that this PDF document contains letters between Ealing Council and Empire Cinema Limited. According to the document:

 The purpose of this note is to provide members with the additional information since the finalisation of the Cabinet report. Empire Cinemas has also been invited to submit any further information but not to address the Cabinet at this stage.

  1. Notes of meeting on 11th Jan 2013 with Empire Cinema, Clarke Bond, Avalon Built Environment and Ealing Council.
  2. Letter from Empire Cinema to Ealing Council dated 15th January 2013
  3. Letter to Empire Cinema from Ealing Council dated 15th January 2013
  4. Letter from Empire Cinema to Ealing Council dated 16th January 2013
  5. Letter to Empire Cinema from Ealing Council dated 17th January 2013

1. Notes of meeting on 11th Jan 2013 with Empire Cinema, Clarke Bond, Avalon Built Environment and Ealing Council.

Meeting to discuss progress on Empire Cinema site by Empire Cinemas 

11th January 2013 

Attendees

Representatives from Empire Cinema, ClarkeBond, Avalon Built Environment and Ealing Council.

1. Update from ClarkeBond on work undertaken and scheduled on site:

 Test piling complete

 Piling contract let and piling to be complete by end of Feb 2013

 Currently procuring pile caps and ground beams contract and steel beams contract.

 Have refurbished the site huts

 Completed all party wall agreements

 Undertaken utilities surveys

 Preparing lighting report for discharge of Condition 7 of the planning consent.

2. Programme date for completion March 2014. – Clarkebond had a “work in progress” programme but was not able to leave a copy. A copy has been requested.

3. Avalon Built Environment has been contracted by Empire Cinema to provide construction management services including CDM, Health and Safety, and site management. Avalon Built Environment is managing the procurement of the individual construction packages. The Council stated that this was not considered to be a full construction contract as requested because there is no significant financial commitment and no certainty of delivery because there is no contract with a construction company to deliver it.

4. Empire asked if they could meet with cabinet members before or at the Cabinet meeting to explain what Empire have been doing.

2. Letter from Empire Cinema to Ealing Council dated 15th January 2013

From: Justin Ribbons on behalf of Empire Cinemas Limited

To: Lucy Taylor

See PDF for scan copy of the letter

(notes to follow)

3. Letter to Empire Cinemas from Ealing Council dated 15th January

(notes to follow)

4. Letter from Empire Cinemas to Ealing Council dated 16th January 2013

(notes to follow)

5. Letter to Empire Cinema from Ealing Council dated 17th January 2013

(notes to follow)

By Alan