Fresh doubts about development of cinema site as sale signs go up...

Fresh doubts about development of cinema site as sale signs go up again

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Tunbridge Wells Cinema Site

A question mark this week hangs over the latest plans to redevelop the old cinema site as it emerged the proposal is just one of a number that might be considered.

Two ‘For Sale’ signs were last week placed on the blue hoardings that surround the corner site.

They followed a statement earlier this month from Bellhouse Joseph that said everything was at an ‘advanced stage’ for the developer to submit a proposal for the site that included a three-screen cinema.

Ed Bellhouse was said to have a ‘high quality proposal that is financially viable’ with ‘a number of key tenants lined up’.

However, this week an insider close to the ongoing discussions regarding the site deal told the Times that Bellhouse Joseph  had ‘pulled out’.

“We have been involved with the sale, and Bellhouse Joseph have pulled out of the purchase,” he said. “It was unexpected.”

It is the latest twist in a saga that has been ongoing since the former ABC Cinema was forced to close just over 15 years ago.

Last week Mr Bellhouse said he had commissioned Adam Architecture to draw up plans for a scheme involving retail, restaurants, office space and a small residential development.

The project also included a three-screen cinema which managed to circumvent a covenant placed on the site by the Odeon by using a corner of the plot that was not included.

A spokesperson for Ed Bellhouse yesterday [Tuesday] said: “As already reported, an earlier offer to buy the site fell through when one of the key tenants withdrew because of the delays in finalising the purchase of the site.

“However, we have since revised the scheme to allow for the change in tenant requirements and remain committed to the redevelopment of the site.

“It is not correct to say we have pulled out of the purchase process: We remain in discussions with the owners and expect to be making an offer.”

Current owners Carlyle Group, who bought the plot for £9.9million in 2011, have commissioned two commercial agents – Savills and Strutt & Parker – to market the site.

A spokesman for Carlyle Group said yesterday [Tuesday]: “We continue to progress our sales process and remain in discussions with a number of interested parties.

“Once these have progressed sufficiently we will then invite formal offers from those parties with whom we believe there is the best chance of reaching a successful conclusion.”