Highams Park ‘The Regal’ Cinema – Redevelopment Granted Planning Permission

Planning was approved last night by Waltham Forest Council to bring the beautiful Art Deco cinema in Highams Park back to life.  The development is an ambitious multi-million pound project which includes a cinema, retail outlet and 30 residential apartments.

Loughton-based Clear Architects have been a driving force behind this project, working closely with LBWF planners, the site owner and stakeholders, and the Highams Park community to ensure the development suits all local criteria.   As a local landmark and superior example of Art Deco architecture, the design for this re-development is key to ensure the integrity of the building is retained.  The addition of 30 luxury apartments meets the criteria for increased residential accommodation within the area.

Melanie Clear, Founder and Practice Director of Clear Architects, says:

 “We are very proud to achieve planning consent for this development which will be so pivotal for the Highams Park area. This project will breathe new life into a wonderful Art Deco building and reinstate the cinema as a thriving hub for the local community.  This is a fantastic example of mixed used regeneration with a design which will set the tone for future development and ongoing regeneration of the Highams Park area.  I can’t wait to watch a film there!”

As the first London Borough of Culture, Waltham Forest Council consider the revitalisation of ‘The Regal’ cinema to be in line with its broader vision of re-generation of the area and ties in with their recent purchase of the former Granada Cinema (EMD) in Walthamstow.

Cllr Simon Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and High Streets, Waltham Forest Council says:

“We are delighted to be able to welcome Rio Cinema to the borough. The redevelopment and reopening of the historic Regal Cinema has long been on our agenda and I am so pleased that we are now able to do this off the back of our London Borough of Culture win. As a registered charity with a unique policy of community access and local involvement, Rio Cinema have shown they align with our culturally led regeneration aspirations.”

“As a Council we are truly committed to providing thriving town centres with cultural destinations for all our residents to enjoy. I am confident that Rio Cinema, and lead designers, Clear Architects, who have played a major part in driving this scheme forward, will not fail to deliver a high-quality, exciting building for our local residents and visitors to the borough.”

Design Detail
In addition to the cinema complex, this mixed-use development will also house a café/bar and 30 residential apartments, creating much needed additional housing for the area.  The building takes its design ethos from the original façade which is locally listed and as a result, design emphasis is given to brick detailing, vertical windows and ‘aqua green glazed’ panels.

The ground floor will consist of a large open entrance foyer, 2 cinema screens and a café/bar to the front of the building, with four one-bedroom apartments to the first floor.  The second and third floors will house a mixture of one, two and three bedroom apartments with several benefiting from balconies.

A stunning two storey roof extension will provide further accommodation for 8 duplexes, the lower level will be formed of glass with an aqua ‘Metallic Veil’ (metal mesh cladding) which will drape the extension acting as a ‘modern day curtain’ to provide privacy for the residents bedrooms.  The 5th floor’s stunning living spaces will benefit from a mix of clear and sandblasted glass and each will have an external balcony.

The residential accommodation is wrapped around a central atrium accessed from Beech Hall Road.  Internally, a series of well-lit ‘Sky Landings’ provide access to the apartments which continue the Art Deco theme with white glazed brick walls, polished white concrete walkways and white metal balustrades.

Re-opening ‘The Regal’ Cinema
The development will provide a two-screen cinema complex with retail outlet, breathing new life into a cinema which last showed big-screen films in 1971, having first opened as the Highams Park Electric Theatre in 1911.  It was later renamed ‘The Regal’ in 1928.

Rio Cinema, which currently owns the Art Deco Rio Cinema Dalston, in East London, has been named as partner for this project.  This will be the second site for this independent non-profit cinema company.

Ricky Gardezi, Owner, The Regal said:

“I am so pleased to see that the building will be rebuilt and fully renovated, bringing it back to its former glory.  Waltham Forest Council and Clear Architects have an inspiring vision in mind which will celebrate the heritage of the building and protect it’s history.  I’m looking forward to working with them as we bring this scheme forward with a high quality cinema operator in Rio Cinema”

Oliver Meek, Rio Cinema, commented:

“We are delighted to be considered to participate in this exciting new community cinema project. We see many parallels with the Rio, and we would look to engage and empower the Higham’s Park community to be active partners in a reborn Regal, with an inclusive “cinema for all” policy.  As a non-profit, we devote all of our resources to our core mission of providing the highest-quality programme and experience with a dedicated and loyal staff.”

“At the Rio, we work closely with a wide variety of community groups and organisations to ensure that we offer a wide range of films and events to satisfy diverse local tastes.  We strive to be a hub that brings members of our community together to enjoy film and other events, such as comedy and concerts. We regularly participate in a variety of film festivals, some with underserved target audiences and we run a number of community initiatives for pensioners, parents and babies and vulnerable groups. We also have a strong history of educational work, ensuring that film is part of the local curriculum and encouraging school children to develop cultural awareness and literacy. The Rio is also at the core of Dalston’s night-time economy and brings countless patrons to the local bars, restaurants and other businesses.”

“At the Rio, our focus is on serving the whole community, delivering a high quality programme and experience for our customers and maintaining a well-run, happy team. We would bring those same values to the Regal in what we hope will be an exciting time of activity and enterprise in the new London Borough of Culture”

Waltham Forest Council approved planning permission for the development on Tuesday 20 March with a vote of 4 to 1.

They praised the development for its high quality design and restoration of a beautiful Art Deco building.  Clear Architects were praised for their tenacity in driving the development forward to an amicable conclusion for all.