Plans to redevelop derelict ABC cinema site in Tunbridge Wells into 166 new homes finally submitted

Plans to build 166 new homes a former town centre cinema have finally been submitted to the council.

A redevelopment of the derelict ABC cinema site in the heart of Tunbridge Wells town centre has taken a step closer after long awaited plans were sent to the local authority.

If approved the development will include an outdoor space and café. Picture: RVG

If approved, a revamp of the Mount Pleasant Road site would see a mega eight storey retirement village erected with a café, outdoor space, hydrotherapy pool, spa and gym.

The plans come from Retirement Villages Group (RVG) which is owned by AXA IM Alts and already has planning consent for a later-living community that was greater in height than the current proposal.

In April a public consultation was held to find out from members of the public their views on the plans, which would see a new public space with a central courtyard for residents and the wider community to enjoy.

Additionally, the former cinema site, which has been empty for 23 years, will be a net zero carbon project, meaning the new community will be net zero carbon across both its development and operational lifespan.

The new development will also reactivate the ground floor fronting Mount Pleasant Road and Church Road, with nine retail units available for local independent businesses.

Plans to revamp ABC cinema in Tunbridge Wells have been submitted to the council. Picture: RVG

RVG’s proposed scheme has responded to the consultation feedback through design changes and enhancements to the façade at the Church Road and Mount Pleasant Road junction – and includes a reduction in height and the inclusion of additional windows and articulation.

Development manager at RVG Caroline Keiller said: “We’re committed to bringing forward a development that is viable so that we can bring this long-dormant site back to life and contribute long-term benefits to the town centre.

“Our scheme will provide an attractive housing option for older people who not only want to downsize, freeing up family-sized homes, but who also want to remain active in their community close to their network of family and friends.”

Originally, developers asked Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for a “screening opinion” on whether it was necessary to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment with the planning application, and the council quickly ruled that it would not.

Environmental Impact Assessments are costly and take a long time to prepare and not needing one gave the green light for developers to submit their plans.

Nine new shops will be built if proposals are given the go ahead. Picture: RVG

Documents reveal there are also plans for basement parking to hold 60 cars.

The last proposal, prepared by Elysian Residences, gained planning permission for 99 flats, but the firm pulled out before building them.

The old ABC cinema closed in 1999 and was demolished in 2014.

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