Council prepares to vote on retirement village plans for ABC Cinema site in Tunbridge Wells

The fate of a derelict cinema at the centre of redevelopment plans for 20 years is set to be decided tonight.

Councillors will consider plans to transform the ABC Cinema site in Tunbridge Wells into a retirement complex, aware that opponents have dubbed the plan “monstrous”.

Plans to revamp ABC cinema in Tunbridge Wells. Picture: RVG

The proposals are due to be considered by member of Tunbridge Wells council’s planning committee this evening.

If approved, a revamp of the Mount Pleasant Road plot would see an eight-storey retirement village built, with a café, outdoor space, hydrotherapy pool, spa and gym.

In a report published for the committee last week, it was recommended that planning permission be granted for the project, subject to the completion of a Section 106 agreement.

This agreement would mean the developer – Retirement Villages Group – would contribute £233,884.08 for community projects.

The current site of the former ABC cinema site in Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells, where 166 homes are planned. Picture: RVG

This includes £72,57.68 going towards the Tunbridge Wells cultural club which covers places such as libraries and social care, and £30,489.22 will be used on the expansion of the town’s waste transfer station and household waste recycling centre.

On top of this, £33,200 will help to impact of the development on The Common and £46,670 will be given for the provision of an electric car club vehicle and the associated running and infrastructure costs.

A total of £50,000 will go towards sustainable transport and £948 for a travel plan monitoring fee.

Retirement Villages Group submitted its final plans for the £72 million development in August.

This came after it bought the former cinema plot back in December.

Plans to revamp ABC cinema in Tunbridge Wells. Picture: RVG

Planning pictures of the 166 care home development at the former ABC cinema site in Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells. Picture: RVG

However, since the plans were made public, neighbours have described them as “monstrous”.

John Atwood, from the town, previously voiced his objections to the development.

He said: “The proposal too is tall, too dense, too banal in its composition.

“It would blight this key central site in Tunbridge Wells with an out-of-scale and bland over-development, completely driven by development greed.

“We have serious misgivings about the failure of this proposal to provide significant benefit to the wider community in the town.”

166 homes are planned for the former ABC cinema site in Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells. Picture: RVG

Development manager Caroline Keiller has said the project would offer a downsizing option for those over 65, releasing “under-occupied families and first-time buyers”.

She continued: “Our experience and research demonstrates that this also benefits the local economy and community, as well as the residents of our schemes.

“They remain close to their network of family and friends, they make new friends, they get involved in local community activities, spend money in local shops and support local charities.”

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