A former Tunbridge Wells cinema building in Tunbridge Wells which has stood derelict for 13 years is to finally be demolished.
Landowners have said announced the bulldozers could be moving in on the former Odeon site, on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Church Road, as soon as next spring.
It comes after a threat of legal action from the Tunbridge Wells Borough council.
The former ABC cinema in Tunbridge Wells
The boarded-up cinema has become an eyesore in the heart of the town’s Conservation Area since being closed in October 2000.
It was sold to joint freeholders Bellhouse Joseph Limited and Carlyle Group Limited in 2011, and consent was granted to demolish buildings on the site.
In a letter read out at a full council meeting yesterday, director at The Carlyle Group director Ben Du Boulay said he was “delighted” to be able to give an update on the demolition.
He said: “Following further discussions with potential tenants and progress made with exploring viable alternatives, we are now in a position to proceed.”
“This has been a long process and understandably people in Tunbridge Wells have felt frustrated by the apparent lack of progress. We look forward to working with the council as we continue with our plans for the site’s redevelopment.”
It comes after Tunbridge Wells Borough Council issued the owners with a Section 16 demand – the first legal step towards the demolition of the site.
Council leader David Jukes said: “I welcome this positive step from the Carlyle Group.
“However we have had similar promises before and, after the latest discussions with a major food retailer fell through last month, the council embarked on a course of legal action which could bring punitive measures on the owners if not complied with.
“Therefore despite the assurance that demolition is intended, I do not propose to stop the legal action until I see the buildings being knocked down.”
Last week Cllr Jukes joined MP Greg Clark in urging Mr De Boulay’s firm to fix what he called a “monstrous mess” and an “eyesore”.
The pair also sent a letter to the managing director of Waitrose supermarkets, who are thought to be in negotiations to take over the site, pleading with them to speed up their discussions.