Curzon exploring cinema bid for Ladywell pool site

Eames:  You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.
- Inception

Sometime BC contributor Max Calo has been lobbying for a Lewisham cinema for years and his efforts have drawn the attention of independent cinema chain Curzon, who approached him about the Ladywell Leisure Centre site he campaigned to turn in to a cinema. With the centre due to shut within weeks, as the new Lewisham pool opens, Curzon has now entered into discussion with the Council. Eastlondonlines reports:

[Calo's] petition was spotted by Curzon Cinemas, who run six arthouse cinemas in the capital and another venue in Cheshire. Calò said Curzon then contacted Hither Green Hall with interest in redeveloping the site as a cinema, and the two parties then held a private meeting with members of Lewisham Council to discuss options.

Cllr Mike Harris also comments:

“If there was a cinema here people would… come out of the cinema, go to a bar, a pub, a restaurant and spend more money here. At the moment that money is being spent in other boroughs. Lewisham is concentrating on housing, but all those people then have nowhere to go in the borough. If there was a cinema here, it then helps the local business, because those local businesses will profit from the extra traffic that is being brought in.”

If the plans do go ahead, Lewisham Council will need to think bigger than just the cinema. At the moment, there is relatively little to tempt the art-house cinema goer to linger. The site is too small and poorly located to build something like Bermondsey Square, but some supporting bars and restaurants would need to be accommodated within the design. Max points out that it’s between two major centres (Lewisham and Catford), but that means that it’s in neither and bus connections between the two are no substitute for a nearby tube station.  But BC has never been a home for people who dream small, so this idea gets our full backing – it just needs the Council to go into this with their eyes open about the scale of commitment required to make this work.

The developers who plan to rebuild Lewisham Shopping Centre are also considering a cinema, albeit one devoted to blockbusters rather than indie film.


Robert said...

Is there somewhere where we can see the plans for the old baths?

Rosie said...

The architect came along to the Volunteer Lewisham AGM a few months ago and presented them, but I don't know that they are publicly available. There's a Yahoo Group for Ladywell Baths that I joined a while back, but not a lot of activity on it. The Ladywell Village Improvement Group is usually the best source of info:

Peter Thornton said...

This would be amazing - if Curzon are reading this thread I'd like to tell them that they've got my full support. I hope it can happen.

Matt-Z said...

Forget bus connections, it's under five minutes' walk from Ladywell Station, which has a decent service (on weekdays at least), and is in one set of plans for the (much-discussed but still a long way off) Bakerloo extension.

Anyway, transport grumblings aside, a cinema in the centre of the borough, which this would be, should do very well.

Adam said...

This would be brilliant for the area and surrounding businesses like the ravensbourne. Sooo much better than more boring flats and retail space. There are plenty of retail spaces already available. What's needed is something to bring people to the area. Fingers crossed

Max Calò said...

Thanks Nick! Anyway, about the size of the site, the Ladywell Pool site is actually slightly larger than the Lewisham Gateway site, or so it appears on the map. And with regard to not being in either Lewisham or Catford in my opinion it's a plus, since a cinema is a destination it can draw from both and help unify the two that are in fact the two town centres in London closest to each other with the Ladywell Pool site is in easy reach on foot from both as well as from other neighbouring areas of the borough.

Iain said...

Aren't there 3 friendly pubs really near the leisure centre- Ravensbourne, firkin and jolly farmers? And the Curzon will surely include a cafe/restaurant/bar, so I'm not sure what more council needs to do, other than put a signpost up by Ladywell station- there are brilliant transport links because of a leisure centre and hospital. The council could insist they introduce orange Wednesday though, that stopped us going to Curzon cinemas ages ago.

GoLadywell! said...

This would be so amazing for the area. I would go there all the time! I imagine there would be loads of demand for something like this and, as some of the other posters have said, it's really close to Ladywell station so I don't see transport being an issue.

Peter Thornton said...

Sadly I can just imagine the council banning them from putting a bar in, and insisting on a community centre...

Totally agree with what you've said above Nick. Why should they have to provide Orange Wednesdays? It's up to them to run the business as they see fit.

Cineaste said...

Curzon cinemas are cool and sophisticated. If they were to be anywhere in Lewisham, they would be in somewhere like Blackheath or....dare I say it...Brockley where there would be a demographic that appreciates such things (and silly things like rail stations and overground that people find useful.)

The site of the MOT Centre would do very well. It used to be a cinema. 'Opened in 1913 as the Brockley Picture Theatre. Later used to be known
as Giralda Cinema and New Palladium Cinema. Closed in 1960 and
demolished and MOT centre built.' Or maybe the Sorting Office?

Central Lewisham is more UGC/UCI territory. The Ladywell Baths site is no-mans land. Good place the build some more flats, maybe.

There were, in fact once two cinemas either side of what is now the roundabout in front of Lewisham station. But that was before they were swept away by the grand vision they had for Lewisham towards the Millenium. That plan seemed to discourage any night time economy in central Lewisham, which accounts for the social desert it is today.

Has this policy changed, I wonder?

Max Calò said...

Lewisham policies apart it is a fact that Curzon expressed an interest in the Ladywell Leisure Centre site and not in Blackheath or the Brockley MOT. This is due to the fact that Ladywell is well positioned to draw the number of customers you need to make it viable. It's a short walk from Lewisham and Catford and as another poster pointed out there are three popular pubs nearby (not to mention a massive hospital). It is also adjacent to the site of the St Mary's conservation area that was in fact the original centre of Lewisham.

cineaste said...

The Curzon on Shaftesbury Ave is one of my favourite cinemas. Would the same formula work in Ladywell? I am sure it would be very appreciated. At the moment there is no local competition. Hardly a cinema in the Lewisham borough. All that business goes to Greenwich.

hannoodle said...

This is a great idea, I really hope something comes of it. I've been dreaming of having a local independent cinema for ages.

My Ladywell said...

"Curzon cinemas are cool and sophisticated. If they were to be anywhere
in Lewisham, they would be in somewhere like Blackheath or....dare I say
it...Brockley where there would be a demographic that appreciates such

posted by My Ladywell (find us on Facebook)

Odeon and on said...

'Curzon's other cinemas are in Mayfair, Soho, Chelsea, Richmond, Bloomsbury and Wimbledon.'

I think that basically says all we need to know about the likelihood of this being anything but cloud cuckoo land reality.

Max Calò said...

Surprising as it is, it is a fact that Curzon have approached Lewisham Council with an interest for the site and meetings between Curzon and Lewisham Council representatives have taken place at Catford Town Hall.

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