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Plans for cinema and restaurant submitted again at The Regent in Deal

The wait for a new cinema in Deal could be over after fresh plans for The Regent have been put forward.

Mark Digweed and James Wallace, who bought the freehold of the Beach Street premises in 2011, have submitted a planning application to Dover District Council for a two-screen cinema seating 200 and an adjoining restaurant.

Its their second attempt to gain consent secure the attraction for residents and visitors after they withdrew their first set of plans in 2014.

The new entrance for The Regent will be from the Timeball Tower side
The new entrance for The Regent will be from the Timeball Tower side

If approval is given, they hope to conduct a 12-month renovation programme opening next year and creating 15 to 20 jobs.

Mr Wallace said: “We think this is the most viable scheme. It gives everybody what they want.

“It retains the existing building without too many alterations, creating something for the community which was always our goal from the offset.

“What we want to do is celebrate the building, a building which has stood the test of time.”

The new design masterminded by David Wright, director of Arts Architecture International, also includes a flexible third screen.

This will stream live sports or golden oldie screenings inside a 120-cover restaurant and bar area.

Three of the four existing walls are to be retained including the Art Deco façade and original dome which will be recovered and painted bottle green - the colours of the original cinema.

The developers say these walls would be strengthened and rendered.

The only wall to be demolished is the south side of the building facing the Timeball Tower where steelwork has rotted.

James Wallace and Mark Digweed unveiled the new plans to Deal Society and Dover Chamber of Commerce
James Wallace and Mark Digweed unveiled the new plans to Deal Society and Dover Chamber of Commerce

It will be replaced with a glass wall helping to create an open and bright foyer space.

Special features include a skylight in the roof and an exclusive mezzanine floor, seating up to 30 people, offering superb views over the Channel and available for private hire.

The upper windows would remain the same size but the ground floor windows would be enlarged to increase the sea view for customers.

A full kitchen and small ice cream booth will be on the ground floor.

Mr Wright, who has been working with the developers for three and a half years, has 35 years experiences in theatre and auditorium designs.

He was behind the renovation of Brighton Dome 18 years ago.

He said: “The original structure was an end of the pier shelter so people could get out of the rain.

“Once it was converted to a cinema it was done on a very low budget however the arches are very sound.

“The original roof is still there although it was not tremendously strong so we need to do some strengthening rather than replacement. We’ll also need to insulate.”

"What we want to do is celebrate the building, a building which has stood the test of time" - James Wallace

Plans to include residential elements in 2014 proved unpopular and were never officially submitted. They have now been scrapped.

The scheme proposes for a small extension to the side, which would create a new entrance with concertina doors onto a square piazza by the Timeball Tower.

This area will be re-landscaped with a compass brickwork design and be used as an outdoor extension to the café in the summer months.

A small section in the corner of the rear car park will be rented from Dover District Council for deliveries and waste bins.

Two possible elements of contention include an external satellite dish, required for live streaming, and a kitchen extractor, which the developers say they’ll try to make as discreet as possible.

Owners Mr Wallace and Mr Digweed have faced pressure from campaign group Reopen The Regent (ROTR) since the purchase in 2011.

The low price of £385,000 was agreed providing it would be restored to a cinema.

In recent years, Dover District Council held a public meeting in a bid to speed up development.

Defending their position, Mr Digweed said: “At no time have our proposals not included a cinema or have we ever approached the council to have the cinema covenant lifted. “We’ve just had to establish how as an asset it can service the community but at the same time make a viable business.”

They confirmed that they’ve been approached by other cinema firms who’ve offered to buy the property but declined the offers.

A ROTR spokesman said: “We are delighted to learn that, after almost nine years, plans for the Regent Cinema have at last been submitted, and we look forward to seeing them.

"We trust that they will be practical, actioned swiftly, and that the people of Deal and its villages will soon have the cinema they have long been promised, and for which they have long campaigned.

"We are ever hopeful, but won’t start celebrations until we see the work begin on site."

A Dover District Council spokesman said: "I can confirm we have received an application for the Regent. This has to be validated by the planning team before it is made public on our website and published on the weekly planning list."

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