Tenterden Cinema and Cultural Hub

Tenterden Cinema and Cultural Hub

The presentation of the key findings of ‘The Site Options Appraisal for Tenterden Cinema’ took place on the 5th July, 2018. The presentation was conducted by Ron Inglis, a cinema consultant from Craigmont Consultants and Stephanie Fischer, architect from Burrell, Foley, Fischer.

The first aim of this appraisal was to establish if there is a market for a cinema in Tenterden and if so, to consider the best operating model for one. Conclusions had already been reached that a two screen, 150 seat capacity cinema would be likely to generate an attendance of an estimated 70,000 people per year from Tenterden itself and the surrounding communities. Given the research carried out it was deemed that Tenterden did merit a cinema, but it would have to be one that would meet the standards expected by modern audiences, providing year round varied programme and events and that it would need to be an efficient venue, easy to operate with minimal staff.

Five possible sites had been investigated by Stephanie Fischer: The Pebbles, currently partly occupied by White Stuff, the first floor of the Tenterden Club, the rear of the Town Hall, the land currently occupied by Glebe hall and an expanded area at the rear of the Town Hall which had been put forward for consideration as a potential creative quarter.

Stephanie presented the case for each of these sites, providing outline plans of the design, layout and ballpark costings for the adaptation or building necessary for each site. A spreadsheet had been produced which weighed the merits of these and it became apparent that the most favourable site is the Pebbles for the following reasons:

  • The site has a High Street presence, which would be convenient for local people and would also attract passing trade.
  • It would be one of the most cost effective options, as the site is already owned by Tenterden council and is partly currently leased to White Stuff. This would mean that a cinema could provide a source of revenue for the town. The building is already in need of renovation, especially the first floor areas.
  • If the site were to be let in the future, this remedial work would have to be carried out before it could be re-let. This would mean necessary expenditure from the Town Council’s budget.
  • Deliveries could be made at the rear of the site, via the White Lion, rather than causing congestion on the High Street. It has a right of way to be able to do this.
  • With conversion and new build, it would be able to accommodate a two screen cinema with a foyer cafe, terrace cafe seating at the front of the building, in line with that of the White Lion and also a basement cafe area. These would generate a total cafe area of approximately 72 places. It would also have disabled access.
  • Two cafe areas would mean that there would be good available wall space for local artists to exhibit their work and the basement area could also be available for other cultural events and private hire.
  • Although the Pebbles is a listed building, it was considered that its facade is the most important element of the listing as it is an important part of the townscape of Tenterden. This exterior would remain unchanged.

The final report, taking into consideration points made by those who attended either of the two presentations, will go to the council next week. It will be available to view on TTC website for those wishing to see the full report.

When all of the regeneration focus groups have concluded their work, a display will be mounted in the Town Hall showing all the group’s findings and their recommendations. The public will be invited to give their opinions before final decisions are made as to how the available money is to be spent. What the majority of people want will go ahead, subject to costings. It is hoped this exhibition will take place within this Council’s year of office.

Posted by Siggi Nepp
Wednesday 11th July 2018

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