Some disappointment at announcement of 2019 opening date
Ealing's finally going to get a new cinema which is now expected to open in 2019.
Leader of Ealing Council, Councillor Julian Bell, joined chairman of the Berkeley Group, Tony Pidgley CBE to celebrate building work starting on the site opposite the town hall in Ealing town centre. Also attending was Holly Smallman of Picturehouse cinemas who confirmed that Picturehouse remains committed to operating a cinema on the site.
However, there was some dismay at the amount of time that it will take to construct the cinema with one opposition politician describing the further delay as 'bleak news'.
The former UGC closed to the public eight years ago (in September 2008) and was demolished in February 2009 (apart from the frontage). Empire originally had plans for a 16 screen cinema but building work never started and a legal battle with the council commenced. A compulsory purchase order was granted to the council and land securities were originally going to develop the site. Last year it was taken over by St George's who are behind Dicken's Yard development.
Council Leader Julian Bell described it as being a 'long, torturous, difficult, frustrating journey' but said he he was overjoyed that work was starting and, as a Sheffield United fan likened it to being the equivalent of his beloved team winning the FA Cup.
He said, ''That's how happy I am today. We are quite a restrained lot in Ealing, we don't make overt expressions of our joy and passions, but if anything is going to get the people of Ealing dancing in the street it's this.
“This is a very exciting time. Crossrail means that Ealing is soon going to be more open and accessible to the rest of London than ever before and this development sits at the heart of our plans to regenerate and revitalise the town centre in time for all of the benefits that it will bring.”
However Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball was not happy with the news that the cinema won't open until 2019. He said,
''Today's stunt with the council leader and MP in construction worker fancy dress is designed to hide today's bleak news that the cinema won't open until 2019 - eleven long years after the 2008 closure of the previous cinema. Ealing has waited long enough already. St George need to pull their finger out and deliver our cinema sooner than that.''
A computer visualisation of the planned new Ealing cinema
Holly Smallman of Picturehouse said, “Picturehouse is pleased to be working with St George and excited to see construction starting on the development. We have been keen to open in Ealing for a while and are delighted that this is now becoming a reality. As it is some time since we first committed to this development, we are reviewing the cinema design with St George.
We look forward to 2019 when we will be opening the doors of our new arthouse cinema that Ealing residents have long desired.”
Michael Bryn-Jones, Managing Director of St George said,“We are delighted to start construction of Ealing Filmworks today, ensuring that Ealing’s long-awaited cinema will be opened in 2019. Vapiano and Planet Organic will also still be accommodated alongside other shops, cafés and restaurants.”
December 12, 2016