Tunbridge Wells looks set to benefit from a cinematic boom after a spokesman for Curzon confirmed the development of a new cinema to occupy the Corn Exchange is in an ‘advanced stage’.
The news comes despite recent announcement of an eight screen multiplex at the Royal Victoria Place, which had led to local speculation that Curzon, famed for its art-house styled cinemas, may pull out.
But a spokesman for Curzon said planning for the three-screen cinema was still ongoing, although he did admit to delays in the process and confirmed there was not yet a starting date for construction.
He said: “Things have been taking longer than we would like, but we are at an advanced stage of designing the cinema space now.
“Once this work has been completed, we will need to tender the work and then appoint a contractor before we are able to move in and start building the cinema.
“We don’t yet have a confirmed starting date for this, however.”
But refuting any suggestion the company was no longer committed to expanding into the town, he said: “Please be assured that we are still very committed and excited to open a cinema in Tunbridge Wells.”
Curzon originally sought planning permission to develop a cinema in the Corn Exchange in April.
Development of the site would see it occupying most of the building currently owned by the Marquess of Abergavenny.
The Marquess himself purchased the Corn Exchange in 2012 alongside the adjacent Lower Pantiles, for a figure believed to be close to £4.5 million, in effect reversing his family’s decision to sell it in 1939.
He has since sought ways of rejuvenating the area following years of decline in footfall which had culminated in the closure of the historical tourist attraction, A Day At The Wells, in 2004.
Development of a new cinema is seen as part of a wider process to reinvigorate the Pantiles alongside other initiatives organised by retailers and Upper Pantiles landlord Targetfollow, such as the jazz evenings.
Commenting on the planned development in April, Mel Alcock, the chief operating officer for Curzon said the site would be one of the largest in of the company’s 18 cinemas.
She added: “We are delighted to be working with the Pantiles to bring a new Curzon cinema to Tunbridge Wells, an area of culture, history and natural beauty.”