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Reopen the Regent protesters hold mock DIY demo demanding improvements to cinema site in Beach Street, Deal

Frustrated cinema campaigners have staged a D.I.Y protest outside the Regent after months of waiting for improvements to be made.

Dressed in overalls and equipped with paint pots, brushes and two ladders, members of the Reopen the Regent staged the mock D.I.Y session in front of the Beach Street building, last Thursday.

Their actions come after Dover District Council’s (DDC) legal demand to the owners to make essential repairs to the property by the end of August have not been carried out.

Reopen the Regent campaigners held a protest outside the former bingo hall Picture: Tony Nandi
Reopen the Regent campaigners held a protest outside the former bingo hall Picture: Tony Nandi

The campaigners say developers James Wallace and Mark Digweed, who have been approached for comment, only replied to the Section 215 Notice issued in June at the very last minute – with a request for eight more weeks in which to comply.

Six weeks of the approved grace period before legal action will take place have now passed and so far no alterations appeared have been made.

A spokesperson for Reopen the Regent said: “We have been monitoring the situation and were disappointed if unsurprised to see no work taking place, but were shocked to learn that DDC has granted the owners an extension before taking legal action against them to enforce Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

"Would they be so lenient with any other Deal citizens who were in breach of planning regulations? It’s time for DDC to take action.

"When it comes to saving the Regent, it feels like we do have to do everything ourselves – neither the developers nor DDC have so far shown any inclination to help!"

DDC has confirmed the time extension and say it is continuing to work with the owners.

A spokesman said: "A s215 Untidy Site notice has been served on the Regent Cinema site in Deal, which required compliance by August 30.

"We have been working with the owner to secure compliance and on inspecting the building, it was discovered that some of the ironwork may need replacing.

"The council has therefore decided to give a period of grace to the owner so that we can consider whether a formal planning application is needed for any necessary works.

"The council is actively working with the owner to achieve long term improvements to the appearance of the building."

The Regent owners James Wallace and Mark Digweed
The Regent owners James Wallace and Mark Digweed

The freehold of the Regent was sold to Mr Wallace and Mrs Digweed by Dover District Council in 2011.

They paid the low price of £385,000 on the proviso the building was restored to a cinema.

Since then only one set of plans has been submitted to DDC, and were withdrawn early in 2014. Other plans have been discussed and shown to this newspaper but haven't been officially submitted. In early 2016, informal pre-planning talks between the owners and DDC resumed. The plans promised at August 2017's scrutiny meeting at the Astor Theatre were never formally put forward.

The Reopen the Regent campaigners continue to push for progress.

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