Locals Query Parking Figures For New Cinema

Residents deny company claim of 300 spaces nearby


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Mistakes were made during an assessment of parking spaces for cinemagoers, the team behind the proposed new Picturehouse cinema admitted.

The subject of parking places in the vicinity of the proposed new cinema on Chiswick High Road was debated at the Chiswick Area Forum last Tuesday ( Sept 24). The planning application was 'called in' for debate by Cllr Gerald McGregor who said that the proposed development of a cinema (at the former Rambert Dance headquarters) had issues concerning lateness, licensing, and parking, which would affect local residents.

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Questioned about the figures issued for parking places for customers, a representative of the cinema said that the first audit of spaces was inaccurate because single yellow lines were misrepresented. The spokesman told councillors and local residents from nearby Thornton and Mayfield Roads that Picturehouse had not experienced problems in relation to parking with other venues such as the one at Clapham or the Ritzy.

It was expected that many people would arrive by foot, or by taking public transport, particularly if they wanted to stay and have a glass of wine after the film. The company was prepared to provide funding towards a later CPZ for residents, which had been mentioned during discussions with planning officials, if it was necessary.

Cllr John Todd said that for the company to claim there were 300 parking spaces was "breathtaking”, and he said local residents had provided figures “which blew your figures out of the water”. On the matter of staying open to 12.30 he wondered why they could not close at conventional theatre times.

The chairman of the Thornton and Mayfield residents said the members were very upset by the parking figures, and could not see that extending a CPZ would work. However the majority of members welcomed the cinema but wanted the opening hours clarified, particularly in relation to the closing hours of the bars. They also wanted to sort out the parking situation.

One resident who said she had lived 35 years in Chiswick, said she objected to the cinema on the grounds that the location was “inappropriate" and was not within the town centre, which was where cinemas should be located. She said “development creep” had to be guarded against. The applicant had rejected other sites which were further along the High Road. The new cinema would put huge pressure on parking and other matters such as deliveries and waste had to be considered. She also wanted to see restrictions on closing hours and an independent acoustic report.

Cllr Adrian Lee said there were commercial businesses all along the High road including pubs and it was not ‘out of town’ - there had not been a cinema in Chiswick for over 30 years and many people were in favour of it.

A Picturehouse representative said that they would provide ‘something different’ which would be tailored to Chiswick’s needs. It would create twenty full-time jobs and fifty part time jobs. It would cost between £3m and £4 million to create the cinema from the shell of the building and would be a regeneration of the eastern end of the High Road and of positive benefit to Chiswitk and its night time economy.

The company was prepared to work with residents on the matter of opening hours, and would ask for Sunday-Thurs closing at 11.30pm and they would ask for 12.30 closure on Fri and Sat to allow for the films which started at 9pm to finish.

Cllr Todd recommended the matter go to the LBH planning committee and it was decided the company and locals would continue discussions.

Picturehouse plans to convert the building from its current use to a cinema facility with five screens, a bar and café. A full planning application is currently with London Borough of Hounslow.

Formed in 1989, Picturehouse now owns and operates 21 cinemas; the most recent openings were the Hackney Picturehouse and Brighton’s Dukes @ Komedia. It has cinemas in Hackney, Clapham and Stratford in London and an additional 36 independently operated venues throughout the UK. The company is a stand-alone entity within Cineworld Group plc, and the sale was announced in early December 2012.

Its venues also broadcast live opera and theatre, pioneering live Screen Arts cinecasts from a variety of venues including the National Theatre, the New York Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House, as well as regular filmmaker Q&As.

Rambert Dance Company has been based on Chiswick High Road since 1971 but will take up residency in new purpose-built headquarters on the South Bank.


September 30, 2013

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