A long running stand-off over the derelict Ealing cinema is about to be ended by the secretary of state. The old cinema was demolished in 2009 and only the listed façade was saved. The site has remained untouched ever since, leaving the home of the world-famous Ealing comedies without a single screen in the area.
The cinema opened in 1934 and the opening film was “Love, Life & Laughter” starring Gracie Fields, which was made in Ealing Studios. The studios are just 200m south of the cinema site and the local area is populated by over 70,000 people, many of whom work in the creative industries. The current owners, Empire, demolished the cinema in 2009 and it has remained derelict for the last six years.
The owners of Empire cinemas are the Dublin based Anderson Group, who submitted a planning application in 2006 before demolishing the old cinema in February 2009, at the height of the global recession.
In 2010, the council had begun to demand answers from the Empire chain over the lack of activity. By 2011, the initial planning proposal (submitted in 2006) had expired. In 2012, the local council began consultations for a compulsory purchase order and Land Securities won the tender process to plan for an alternative. Ealing council have proposed a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to the secretary of state and a decision is expected any day.
The site is currently under the ownership of The Anderson Group, an Irish cinema owner (not developers) who were able to buy around 20 UK cinemas in 2006 after the monopolies commissions ordered the two biggest cinema chains reduce their dominance. One of the cinema’s they bought was the Empire in Leicester square, which gave the chain its name.