Former ABC Cinema site set for ‘boots on the ground’ next month

The team from Corker Outdoor, Award sponsor Jason Varney (Thomson, Snell & Passmore) & Eamonn Holmes

Retirement Villages Group (RVG), the retirement living company developing the former ABC Cinema site on Mount Pleasant Road, has announced it is on track to have ‘boots on the ground’ there next month.

In a statement seen by the Times last week, the company confirmed that they are ‘near the end of the contractor procurement process’ which means that work can finally begin on the site, which has been vacant for more than two decades.

The ABC Cinema was closed in 2000 and demolished in 2014, but after multiple failed projects, the plot has been in stalemate for over 23 years.

An RVG spokesperson told the Times that this means work will begin imminently in the New Year with the ‘installation of site cabins and adaptations to hoardings’.

“Works are set to take place at the start of the new year with piling and breaking ground taking place beyond that, so residents may start to see construction vehicles come and go from the site,” they added.

The 1.5-acre development site is set to become a £72million ‘extra care’ retirement facility, known as ‘Thrive Living’ after securing planning permission in November 2022.

The site was first acquired in December 2021 by RVG, which is owned by AXA IM Real Assets.

The new ‘later living’ village will be an eight-storey building boasting 166 homes and is expected to also include retail space, restaurants, a café, an outdoor courtyard, and leisure facilities, complete with a pool, gym, and spa.

The RVG spokesperson added that with works starting on site in the new year, the Public Right of Way that bisects the ABC Cinema site and provides pedestrian access between Clanricarde Road and Mount Pleasant Road will be closing in January 2024.

RVG revealed to the Times that appropriate signage will be provided to direct pedestrians to alternative routes during this period of closure and a realigned public right of way will be opened once construction is completed.

The RVG spokesperson exclusively told the Times: “We are delighted to be kicking off activity on site next month as we start our journey towards bringing a new, vibrant and connected community for people over 65 in the heart of Tunbridge Wells, while also bringing life back to this long-dormant site.

“We will be staying in touch with local residents and businesses each step of the way and look forward to providing more construction announcements next year.”

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