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Plan for new cinema in Chalk Farm axed

Big screen proposal for former Marine Ices site has been scrapped

15 August, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

A drawing of how the site could look

THE former Marine Ices restaurant will not be home to a new cinema complex, the New Journal has learned.

Owners Bellis Homes are set to begin demolition of the site in Chalk Farm Road in the next month with plans to build a new 19-home block. When the project went before the Town Hall in 2015, after Marine Ices shut after 80 years of trading, designs passed by planning officials boasting a three-screen auditorium on the ground floor and basement.

But Henry Fordham, director of family-run property firm Bellis Homes, told the New Journal this week said the cinema had been scrapped. Instead, they say they are in talks with a major national food retailer to take on the ground floor. Mr Fordham, whose firm bought the site with planning permission from London and Regional Properties, said: “Planning was given for a number of uses, one of which was a cinema.

However, the construction and engineering were complicated and it would have been very hard to use it as a cinema.” He said that as well as a food shop, they were in talks with a gym to open in the ground-floor uni. Mr Fordham added: “We have had a lot of people who have put offers forward – and none of them are for a cinema.” It is the second time in the past 12 months that plans to create new independent cinemas in the neighbourhood have fallen through.

A proposal to turn the former North London Polytechnic building, in Prince of Wales Road, into a cinema was also scrapped when the owners, property firm Uplift, could not find a film firm to run it. The building now lies shrouded in scaffolding, with the property on the market.

Mr Fordham said work at Marine Ices could be completed in around 15 months’ time. He said: “The site cost £9.5million and we moved very fast to buy it – we exchanged and completed in around 15 days.”

Due to be named after the ice-cream brand made famous from the site, he said he had the blessing of the Mansi family who set up the famous ice cream factory in the 1930s. “We toyed with different names and tried others with historic references,” said Mr Fordham. “But it is such an iconic name, we felt it would just not be right to lose it. “The owners of Marine Ices were not sure at first, but they thought about it and then agreed.”

Prices for the homes will be between £600,000 and £1.3m. Now film lovers will wait to see if a third prospect of a new cinema flagged up by developers in recent years in the area comes to fruition. Planned for the Hawley Wharf development by Market Tech, work is still under way on the building that will house it on Hawley Road.

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