One minute, the scheme is on. The next minute, it is off, delayed, undergoing change and modification, whatever.
It’s going to be another of those “definite article” enterprises but only the name has anything definite about it. The Kensington, for so it is called, is a mixed facility development with the inevitable luxury flats, the so-called social housing (which means 1 bed apartments at £900,000 as opposed to £1,400,000) plus a cinema and therein lies the catch.
If you think that the cinema will remain in all its Art Deco glory, you will be disappointed. Minerva Properties are planning to relocate the cinema entrance in the Earl’s Court Road. They have pulled a fast one here as they are creating a “screening room”, whatever that might be, in the original cinema area but the rest is going, including the beautiful marble staircases and period interior.
No-one can deny that the individual cinemas themselves had become very shabby. The foyer and the staircases are a different story and with sympathetic restoration would enhance whatever the developers want to do with the site.
A quick look at the Minerva details showed that five directors resigned last year. The six current directors came onto the Board between December 2014 and November 2015. Sounds like a bit of a clear-out to me and that does not bode well. The web-site is vague to put it mildly, though they do say they are retaining the trees. How jolly good-hearted of them!
I suspect that once they receive permission to shift the cinema, it will shift permanently into the wide blue yonder and one of the most historic cinemas in London will be lost to the local community. Others share my view and today’s Sunday Times feature refers to a campaign which has won the support of many from the entertainment world.
It would be tragic if this much-loved, much-patronised local amenity were lost, especially if it is to be replaced by yet another “dark” residential building, owned by offshore investors on a money parking basis but never lived in. We have enough of those in Kensington already.
We don’t need dark buildings. We need homes for real residents and we need a cinema.
Joannah Yacoub, originally from the far north but resident in London since 1973 and Kensington Court since 1993, has views on what has to be her home city, no matter where she originally came from.