A community cinema was given the green light last night (January 16) to move into the former Rambert Ballet School site in Chiswick High Road.
The owners of Picturehouse Cinemas breathed a sigh of a relief after Hounslow’s planning committee approved their plans to move into the site in Chiswick High Road which was put on the market around three years ago, although the famous dance troupe only moved out in November.
Branding it as their toughest application yet, the independent cinema company – which owns six venues across London and 15 others in the UK – can now move forward with their plans for a five-screen cinema with two bars, a cafe and a terrace.
Also in the plan is a living wall which they say will transform the currently non-descript facade and will create a natural habitat for insects and birds as well as preventing sound leakage and providing insulation.
Lyn Goleby, founder and managing director of Picturehouse Cinemas for the past 25 years, said: “We’re very relieved the council approved our application. We have cinemas all over the country and each one is different, they’re always bespoke to the area they’re in and are more than just a place people go to watch a film. We have people coming for work meetings, lunch, to meet friends, they’re always real community hubs.
“We’ve never had so much trouble with an application, we’re normally welcomed with open arms but luckily the council realised we will be a good addition to Chiswick.
“I’ve been trying to get a space for a cinema in Chiswick for 10 years so when Rambert was put on the market we were thrilled. This is just the first hurdle, now the really hard work starts. We’re really excited to work within the community.”
Concerns about closing times were raised by residents and councillors but these were quashed by the owners of Picturehouse who explained most films will not finish as late as the closing time but they give leeway for films which are extraordinarily long.
The closing times will be 11:45pm from Sunday to Thursday and 12:45pm on Fridays and Saturdays with an inclusive 15 minutes to allow time for staff to clear the cinema.
Felicity Proctor, a resident of North Chiswick where the cinema will be based, was concerned about the cinema being outside of the town centre but Hounslow’s planning officers pointed out the western edge of the property is the designated perimeter of the town centre.
Other neighbours were concerned the terrace would encourage noise and smoke drifting into their houses from the terrace but were assured this would be kept to a minimum with restricted hours on the terrace.
Head of the planning committee, Tom Bruce, rubber stamped the plans and added one condition which means the cinema group will have to double the amount of cycle spaces available from 11 to 22.
Picturehouse Cinemas are hoping the new venue should be up and running within the next 18 months.