A new luxury community cinema could be coming to Teddington, courtesy of an architecture firm based in the suburb.
Architecture:WK (AWK) have proposed a design which would convert the former HSBC site on Teddington High Street into The Front Room Bar & Cinema, as one of the firm’s Social Initiative projects.
At the moment, the cinema is only a concept, but AWK’s director and founder Sam Kamleh is optimistic about its chances of becoming a reality.
She said: “We’ve had the most unbelievable response to this. This is right on our doorstep and that has really resonated with people.
“I’ve received a number of emails saying: ‘This is up the road for me, I would love this, we can make a night out of it.’
“I’m completely overwhelmed to be honest and I think with the level of support we’ve had and the type of people who have been in contact with us, I think it may become a reality. It’s incredibly exciting.”
There is currently no cinema in Teddington, with residents having to travel to Richmond, Feltham or Kingston.
The proposed site has been empty since HSBC closed the branch in 2017, and a planning application for flats and a commercial unit was rejected in June.
However, this project has been in the works longer than six months, as Kamleh explained one of the earliest sketches was from July 2019.
As a pro bono project, AWK can only spend a finite amount of time and resources on it, which also means that next steps are as dependent on financing as they are on gaining planning permission, but Kamleh believes that her firm’s knowledge of Teddington stands them in good stead.
She added: “It’s a good site for it, and the plan is developed to an extent. We can only spend so long on these projects but the team got overexcited and ended up rebuilding the whole high street on a 3D model.
“It’s only a 40-seater so it would be intimate and could have different design options so that we can use the space in different ways throughout the day. It could be a real hub for the community.
“The idea was always to make it a community-owned enterprise. We considered raising the funding through crowdfunding, making everyone who contributed either members or part-owners.
“If we get private support, then we’re talking about a very different enterprise. But to be honest there’s potential for it to be a bit of both. We’re in the early stages both in terms of planning and in our conservations with various people, so it would be a couple of years away at least.
“But gauging the amazing response we’ve had, it looks as if the people want it, and therefore it may well happen.”
The cinema is the latest in the firm’s Social Initiatives, which previously included a proposal to resurface and pedestrianise Strawberry Hill village, which gained traction during a planning consultation in 2017 and became part of the plan as a result.
Featured image credit: Architecture:WK