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Deal Town Council raise no objections to Regent cinema plans

By Eleanor Perkins

"We do need a cinema so let's get one back into the town."

That was the plea from the Mayor of Deal as councillors considered the latest plans for The Regent in Beach Street.

A debate at last night's planning committee meeting saw members complement the design of the two-screen attraction put forward by developers Mark Digweed and James Wallace.

The latest plans for The Regent in Deal were submitted to DDC in late December 2018
The latest plans for The Regent in Deal were submitted to DDC in late December 2018

But despite some queries over disabled access and 'where the hoover to clean up all the popcorn would be kept', members raised no objections.

The item will now go forward for consideration by Dover District Council.

Mayor, Cllr Nick Tomaszewski said: "We've waited for many years. We do need a cinema so let's get one back into the town.

"I would like to propose that we have no objections and we just get on with it."

Mayor of Deal Cllr Nick Tomaszewski says the town has waited for a cinema for "many years"
Mayor of Deal Cllr Nick Tomaszewski says the town has waited for a cinema for "many years"

The fresh plans, exclusively revealed by Kent Online in January, include two-screens seating 200 and an adjoining 120-cover restaurant and bar.

The design masterminded by David Wright, director of Arts Architecture International, also includes a flexible third screen for live sports streaming or golden oldie screenings.

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.

Deal Town Council is supporting the latest plans for a cinema in the town
Deal Town Council is supporting the latest plans for a cinema in the town

It is Mr Digweed and Mr Wallace's second attempt to gain consent after they bought the freehold of the premises in 2011.

It follows an almost five-year drive by campaign group Reopen the Regent to get the iconic seafront building opened and restored to its former use as a cinema having closed its doors as a bingo hall in 2009.

Mr Robin Green said: "It's obvious to most people that this would be an enormous asset to the town of Deal.

"I salute the design and access statement. It is one on the best I've seen in the 10 years I've sat on this committee.

"The glass canopy restoration is a crucial element as it dates back to the 1926 building - it's a strong benefit of the application.

"And I thoroughly approve of the the demolition of the red brick wall between this building and the Timeball Tower which opens up the piazza. It will attract all sorts of people through the year.

"People sit outside Dunkerleys and Port Arms so why would they not equally sit outside here?"

The proposed floorplan for The Regent cinema (6286667)
The proposed floorplan for The Regent cinema (6286667)

Cllr Dominic Harper raised his aversion to the "chilly, cold effect" of the LED lights proposed for behind the Regent sign. He wondered if "incandescent" or "neon" lighting could be explored.

Ms Eyvor Fogerty queried the location of cupboard space for cleaning items and "the hoover that will be needed to clean up all the popcorn", as well as the disabled access.

Developers said cupboards would be drawn into the kitchen space at a later stage, with access and space for wheelchairs meeting all requirements.

James Wallace and Mark Digweed attended the meeting to listen to comments
James Wallace and Mark Digweed attended the meeting to listen to comments

The application has so far received 14 comments of support and only one objection from the public.

If approved, developers envisage a 12-month renovation programme, opening next year and creating 15 to 20 jobs.

Mr Digweed said: "We greatly appreciate the support of the board at the planning committee including councillors and the Deal Society, and their decision to approve with no objections.

"We were also pleased to hear the comments raised, some of which we were able to respond to immediately, others we will certainly take into consideration."

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