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Application for drive-in cinema at Machine Shop No.8 in Chatham's Dockside Outlet Centre


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A new cinema could be opening at an outlet centre.

Proposals for a drive-in cinema to be built in Dock Head Road, Chatham, have been submitted.

The former Machine Shop Number 8. Picture: Peter Still
The former Machine Shop Number 8. Picture: Peter Still

If approved, the project would see the erection of an outdoor screen inside a disused cast-iron framework in the Dockside Outlet Centre.

The former Grade II-listed Machine Shop 8 was bought by retail management firm WD Ltd in 2017, which gained planning permission to convert it into a 30,000 sq ft complex which would include a climbing wall and activity centre, but plans never took shape.

New proposals, issued last month, would include the installation of 64 car parking spaces with a separate space adjacent to the complex to be used as a waiting area to alleviate traffic pressure.

There will be no audible noise emanating from the site as the cinema sound will be directly streamed to cars.

The disused iron framework could house the cinema. Picture: Peter Still
The disused iron framework could house the cinema. Picture: Peter Still

Medway Council granted the site a premises licence to serve alcohol and to show films outdoors from Monday to Sunday between 10am and 10pm earlier this year.

The structure was built in Woolwich in the mid-1800s as a dry dock cover by Fox Henderson & Co, a renowned company of engineers which built the ironwork for The Crystal Palace for The 1851 Great Exhibition.

A dry dock cover is essential in the construction and maintenance of large ships, to keep them out of the elements as they are being worked on.

Dry docks house huge ships as they are being built, then are filled with water so the vessel can be propelled into the water.

Drive-in cinemas have become a popular day out for families across the county during the pandemic
Drive-in cinemas have become a popular day out for families across the county during the pandemic

The historic building is believed to be the earliest surviving of its kind in existence.

When Woolwich dockyard was closed in 1869, the building was deconstructed and rebuilt in Chatham, where it now stands, and used as a machine shop by the Royal Navy.

A machine shop would have been a place where repairs were made to equipment in service by the Royal Navy.

But since the mid-1970s the structure has sat unused, following the Navy leaving Medway.

A public notice has been issued as the site relates to a grade two listed building.

Representations in regards to the application should be made to Medway Council's Head of Planning, Dave Harris, by Thursday, May 20.

To see more, visit www.kentonline.co.uk/advertise/public-notices/

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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