WORK to transform the old cinema site on Mount Pleasant into £80million project The Belvedere may not begin until next summer.
Developer Altitude told the Times this week they are ‘nine to 12 months’ away from starting work on the Tunbridge Wells eye sore site.
This is the second time the start date has been put back to build at least 99 homes and a boutique cinema on the former site of the ABC, which closed to the public in 2000.
Altitude secured planning permission for The Belvedere last autumn and said work would begin in 2018, taking two and a half years to complete. This January the firm said it would more likely be the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019.
Teams were spotted in February, completing drilling and early assessments on the plot. The Belvedere is set to also contain a walkway, five restaurants, nine shops and an extra nine homes or a GP surgery.
As discussions continue with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, the start-date appears to have slipped further. Stephen Tillman, Director of Altitude, said: ‘We have been progressing all the legal matters that need to be sorted to enable us to proceed with the application, including the new agreement for a walkway.
‘We are still some nine to 12 months from getting on site, but hope to be able to bring forward a small competition for the pattern design on the metal cladding element on the cinema in the coming months.’
The Times has asked Altitude for further details of the ‘new arrangement for a walkway’ but no response had been received at the time of writing.
The delay is disappointing for businesses and residents, hoping to see a new development.
Brian Lippard, of Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, said: ‘We would have expected Altitude to progress this development quickly in order to gain the earliest possible return on their investment. If they have had second thoughts then they should do the honourable thing and immediately put the site up for sale. The resultant delay would be regrettable but it would give the town the opportunity of getting a more suitable building [than the one being planned].’
A spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said: ‘Altitude is keeping us informed and we continue to work with them.’
Additional reporting by Abi King.