Tunbridge Wells residents had their first view of what could eventually replace the rubble-strewn old cinema site in the town centre last week, as developers revealed the complex was to be named Belvedere – which means ‘fair view’ in Italian.
People who visited the consultation in the Camden Centre were encouraged to give their feedback on three potential designs.
Although the façade is yet to be determined, each of the proposals represents a different configuration of how the main structure would look.
Stating his intent to create something ‘high end’, Stephen Tillman, one of three founding partners of the developer Altitude, was confident his firm could deliver on any of the three visions.
Funding and design were ‘not an issue’, he claimed, but he said the main concern was the project’s viability, hinting that previous developers had been too ambitious.
“I don’t want to produce something pretty but not viable. What previous planning applications had shown were designs intended to fill the entire footprint of the site. What we are proposing is 25 per cent smaller.”
The proposals will see between 80 and 100 residential units built in blocks of variable heights over a two-storey car park, with each level having direct access to the street due to the natural gradient of the site.
Challenges regarding the railway tunnel beneath the site will be overcome by placing most of the ‘load’ on either side of the development, allowing the middle to be a private rooftop garden.
Mixed retail and leisure units will make up the two lower floors, which will also utilise the gradient to ensure no steps are necessary to access both levels, while they will be set back from the road to allow outdoor seating and wide walkways.
Along with the planned inclusion of a new cinema, there is also space set aside for a medical centre to the rear of the complex, bordering Clanricarde Road.
Current rights of way will be retained with only some minor changes to the routes.
Mr Tillman said that although he can ‘never be certain’ with planning applications, he believes when the plans are submitted they ‘should be’ received better than previous attempts, as this proposal is ‘fully operational’.
However, he did admit he had a favourite design: “I like number one, which is why it has been given more prominence.”