Your blog of 15 November on the cinema has been brought to my attention. Your reference to localism had a particular resonance as we work hard to be a positive and responsive influence locally. Cadogan has a major stake in the long term success of the area and as such we approach what we do mindful of the impact it has on the community and on our neighbours.
I thought you would be interested in the approach we have taken to this scheme and the importance given to the views of local residents in the course of developing our plans. Incidentally, local Councillors and planning officers have been aware of this approach throughout.
Over the past year and a bit (November 2012 to January 2014) we have carried out extensive engagement and consultation with the local community on the proposed redevelopment of the Chelsea Cinema.
An independent consultancy Soundings has been appointed to carry out the public consultation to ensure that people are well informed about the proposed development and have opportunities to input into the process at key stages and that these views are fed back to the design team.
The process has seen over 1,400 people attend 23 separate events and provide over 600 representations. The events included 4 public exhibitions that were open to the public, held locally and publicised through leaflets door dropped to local residents in the consultation boundary, posters and adverts in the local press. The exhibitions gave people a chance to be introduced to the project, see how the consultation had affected the process, discuss the proposals with the project design team, and provide feedback.
Additionally a Community Liaison Group was created at the start of the process to act as a sounding board for the emerging plans. Members include representatives from local community groups, residents’ associations, and other local stakeholders as well as attendance by me and my team from Cadogan and the design team led by the architects Paul Davis + Partners. The Liaison Group met on a regular basis at key stages throughout the process.
We also created a website www.200-222kr.com which contains all the information to date about the proposed development, results of the consultation so far, and downloadable copies of the boards from the four public exhibitions.
The overall findings from the consultation show overwhelmingly that the single key issue most important to people regarding the Chelsea Cinema is for the provision within the new development of an independently operated cinema with at least one large screen theatre. People understand the need for the cinema to be redeveloped so that it meets modern standards and accessibility, as well as meeting the needs of today’s cinema industry.
The key concerns consistently recorded by those not in favour of changes to the cinema have been the reduction in screen size and number of seats.
We have been very careful throughout the process to listen to the local community’s views and to use this input to inform our development plans and many changes have been made as a result. We look to continue to do so and have been reviewing the plans for the new cinema in terms of the appropriate operator, screen size and capacity with the aim of satisfying many of the responses we have received.
Although I completely understand peoples’ concern at the prospect of change, in this case our fervent belief is that it is right to retain a cinema, right to make sure it meets modern standards so everybody can access it and it must be right to ensure it is viable for the long-term.