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Cinema plan for Dockside Outlet centre in Chatham is turned down

Plans to open a drive-in cinema at an outlet centre have been rejected.

The proposal for an outdoor screen inside Machine Shop No. 8 at the Dockside Outlet Centre in Chatham was refused by Medway Council planners.

Machine Shop Number 8 at Chatham Maritime
Machine Shop Number 8 at Chatham Maritime

The towering cast-iron framework in Dock Head Road – which was formally a dry dock – has been the subject of many plans to put it to use, including to host a climbing wall and activity centre.

Although these plans were granted permission in 2017, they never materialised.

Earlier this year, the council granted the site a premises licence to serve alcohol and to show films outdoors from Monday to Sunday between 10am and 10pm.

However, after planning permission was sought for the Grade II-listed building by applicant WD Outlet Management Ltd for the change of use to a drive-in cinema with space for 64 cars in April, this was refused.

This was because it said the application had not included assessments on how the plans would impact lighting and noise.

Centre manager Anthony Sutton
Centre manager Anthony Sutton

The council also concluded the proposed highway plans would have an unacceptable impact on surrounding roads and safety for pedestrians.

The decision was posted on Friday, September 10.

The structure was built in Woolwich dockyard in the mid-1800s and when it closed in 1869 it was deconstructed and rebuilt in Chatham, where it was used as a machine shop by the Royal Navy.

Dockside centre manager Anthony Sutton said they now aim to revert to pre-Covid plans to cover the existing framework of the building in a shell to create a leisure complex.

Although at present there are no fixed details for what it consist of.

The Odeon cinema at the site
The Odeon cinema at the site

He said: "We understand Medway's position, and we are now pursuing the long-term future of the machine shed.

"We're looking to proceed with the original planning application to cover the building for leisure opportunities.

"With the world returning to normal we want to pursue the original plans."

Dockside already has an Odeon cinema on the site.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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