Waltham Forest Council has approved the planning application to restore the Regal Cinema in Highams Park.
The development, which anticipates that the venue will be operated by The Rio Cinema, will ensure another important cultural and heritage venue is returned to its former glory. The application, approved on Tuesday 20 March 2017, includes two new cinema screens, restoration of the building’s façade and entrance in keeping with the history and heritage of the town centre, a café/bar and 30 new homes.
The Regal building opened in 1911 as the Highams Park Electric Theatre, before closing as a cinema in 1971. It then reopened as a bingo hall, which was eventually turned into a bar and nightclub and later repossessed and used as offices for the security firm TSS which are now relocating elsewhere in Highams Park.
Three years ago Waltham Forest had no cinemas. The Council delivered Empire Cinemas as part of The Scene development in Walthamstow’s High Street in 2015, making it a cultural destination for residents and visitors. With the Granada announcement and the Regal there will soon be three entertainment venues that will continue to help the night time economy thrive.
Councillor Simon Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and High Streets commented: “It’s great news, but not unsurprising that we are moving forward with our plans to ensure this much-loved film venue is reopened. Fresh from our London Borough of Culture win, this demonstrates our commitment to invest in the culture of the borough.
“Breathing life back into the Regal Cinema is part of the Council’s wider regeneration plans to develop a quality leisure offer in the north of the borough, strengthening its position as a desirable place to live and visit.”
“This project will be a terrific boost for Highams Park. This area has a strong sense of community, with new residents, a range of small retailers and regeneration of the Cinema could see it develop into a small but important independent-led cultural centre.”
Oliver Meek, Executive Director at Rio Cinema added:
“We are delighted to be considered to participate in this exciting new community cinema project. We see many parallels with the Rio, and we would look to engage and empower the Higham’s Park community to be active partners in a reborn Regal, with an inclusive “cinema for all” policy.
"As a non-profit organisation, we devote all of our resources to our core mission of providing the highest-quality programme and experience with a dedicated and loyal staff.
At the Rio, our focus is on serving the whole community, delivering a high quality programme and experience for our customers and maintaining a well-run, happy team.
We would bring those same values to the Regal in what we hope will be an exciting time of activity and enterprise in the new London Borough of Culture.”
Melanie Clear, Founder of Clear Architects said: “We are thrilled that planning consent has been granted for this exciting development. We have worked closely with London Borough of Waltham Forest to ensure this mixed used regeneration project will meet and serve the needs of the local community and become a thriving hub for Highams Park.
“Our design will preserve the integrity of this iconic Art Deco building and restore its cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy. We can’t wait to see the Cinema re-opened after so many years, to its former glory,"
Ricky Gardezi, local businessman and owner of the building commented: “I am so pleased to see that the building will be rebuilt and fully renovated, bringing it back to its former glory. Waltham Forest Council and Clear Architects have an inspiring vision in mind which will celebrate the heritage of the building and protect its history. I’m looking forward to working with them as we bring this scheme forward with a high quality cinema operator in Rio Cinema.”