Robin Cottle, Reporter
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Orpington is set to enjoy its first cinema in 30 years as part of a new £10 million town centre development.
A seven screen Odeon cinema is the centrepiece of the plans at Walnuts Shopping Centre, which also include four new retail units, three new restaurants and the remodelling of the public square.
Miller Developments, who are running the project, held a public consultation in Walnuts last Thursday and Friday (May 31 and June 1) to take in the views of shoppers and residents.
Orpington MP Jo Johnson said: “This is fantastic news and a terrific vote of confidence. We need to bring a footfall to the town and there’s every reason for these plans to go through.”
“This scheme will revive a tired shopping centre and the initial response from local business owners has been good.”
Orpington last had a cinema in 1982 when the Commodore closed down in May of that year, being turned into a branch of McDonalds.
Residents in the town have to go to Bromley, Bexleyheath or Bluewater Shopping Centre in Dartford to go to the pictures.
Mark Hewett, who has been working on the project for Miller Developments, said: “Retail in Orpington town centre has been in steady decline for a number of years.
“This is giving people the opportunity to come back into the town rather than to places like Bluewater as well as creating jobs.
“The public consultation was a success and has given us a number of points to consider.”
Walnuts was bought by Garden Properties CH Ltd in September last year who have been working with Miller’s to try and revitalise the centre. They also bought the adjoining job centre.
The developers aim to submit their planning application by June 22. From their Miller’s hope to start the planning consultation by September with the aim of completing the development by Christmas 2013.
They plan to open the cinema in spring 2014 due to the increased building work required.