The following letter was sent by The Chelsea Society on 17th July 2015
to Mr. Graham Stallwood,
Executive Director of Planning and Borough Development,
Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea,
Dear Mr. Stallwood,
THE CURZON CINEMA – King’s Road
As you know, the site is owned by Cadogan, whose plans to redevelop were recently rejected by RBKC. The Society supports that rejection and is opposed to the appeal which has been instituted.
However, Cadogan have since engaged with local people, including the Chelsea Society, and with Curzon cinemas and are now proposing a much-improved version, which would provide:
- A main cinema auditorium with 412 seats, including “Pullman” seats and wheelchair spaces.
- Two smaller auditoria, which would be used for separate films and to accommodate overflow demand for major events such as the live performances from the international theatres and opera houses.
- Step-free access to the auditoria and box offices and refreshment facilities.
- Retention of the Trafalgar public house on the King’s Road (not in a side street)
- Retention of the 1930s front-elevation of the old Gaumont cinema, complete with the three medallions and the Greek-key frieze and cornice.
- Provision of social housing units (the number is not yet certain but the Society would like to see the largest number possible having regard to the economics of the scheme).
- We consider that the front elevation above the Trafalgar public house is an interesting example of Edwardian architecture which fits well into its present setting. We have discussed this with Cadogan, and have seen revised computer-generated images of a new front elevation which match the texture and colour of the existing brickwork and which replicate the parapet wall and the pilasters and capitals and the Portland stone detail around the windows.
- They also replicate the pane sizes of the existing windows (but opening inwards as French-windows) and replicate the small balcony on the new first and second floors with ironwork on these balconies and French windows as close as possible to the existing, having regard to current health and safety standards.
On the above basis the Society supports the revised application which Cadogan have made.
The cinema is an important amenity for Chelsea and it is necessary that the work is programmed so that it is closed for the shortest possible time, and not at the same time as the other cinema on the King’s Road and/or the cinema on the Fulham Road.
Planning Committee Chairman
This cinema on the King’s Road was formerly the Gaumont Palace, opened in 1934. It was partly converted to a store in 1972 and retained 739 seats. The front elevation in art deco style is substantially intact, and the Society is committed to preserving it. It is faced with medallions including one to W Friese Greene, a pioneer of cinematography, whose laboratory was on the site.
The site is owned by Cadogan, who submitted a planning application in June 2014 to RBKC to redevelop the site to include a smaller cinema and to relocate the Trafalgar Arms public house into a side street. The application was refused.
During the public consultation period more than 10,000 people signed a petition to keep the large cinema which is a cultural hub in the area, as it now shows plays and opera transmitted live from the leading theatres and opera houses of the world, in addition to normal cinema.
Revised plans for the development can be viewed here (PDF).
Planning permission has now been granted