The Alliance have proposed the concept of meanwhile use to Retirement Villages who are embracing the idea. As we represent you, the residents, feel free to add your ideas for interim use of the cinema site. There will, of course, be issues such as safety, planning and insurance to consider alongside many others.

20 Comments

  1. This is such a great concept. I think a simple green space, possibly with a wildflower area, a few benches and a couple of mobile coffee vans would be a great use of the space.

  2. I agree with Jessica Carter: a simple green space woud be a very welcome addition to the ‘upper end’ of the town centre.
    Another idea, following one of the best loved and successful features of provincial towns in France, would be a market place for a regular weekly Saturday market, perhaps also taking place on a week day but on a smaller scale as they do in France. Markets provide a wonderful informal social / meeting area too.

    1. Green space, wildflowers,bird feeders, lots of benches to relax sounds ideal (however perhaps gated so ot can be closed at night to prevent antoi social gatherings and the associated rubbish thay would benleft behind ie cans, kebab wrappers, glass bottles.)
      Regular markets.
      Or smooth space for outdoor skating- roller skating rather than a skate park- which will facilitate local skaters(adults and kids) to meet for a friendly and healthy outdoor pursuit like they do in Brighton/Hove seafront.

  3. Excellent, green open space with benches, flower beds and a water feature please.

  4. 1. A dedicated green open spce within the site.
    2. A regular covered market within the site.
    3. A drive-in open air cinema within the site.

  5. Do as they do in many cities, turn it into a green space for the people to enjoy. It can have wildflower meadow parts and picnic areas.

  6. Would like site to be grassed with hardstanding in central area for pop up events/markets/exhibitions. Surrounding flower beds, paths and lots of benches. Good tourist attraction promotion boards for town and surrounding area – advertising ops on boards would help meet costs of production.
    Plantings of wildflowers, traditional or fruit and veg.

  7. Green space and benches. semi-permanent enclosed units similar to BoxPark container units in London to provide weatherproof retail/catering units. Units for local small businesses and spaces for community talks/lectures/family friendly puppet shows etc. Units for charities to promote current campaigns. Council info/tourist info. Most importantly, toilet facilities!

  8. Summary of Ideas for Meanwhile Use from the Tunbridge Wells Facebook Group
    Over 300 comments and lots of different ideas showing people care deeply about this site.

    Summary of suggestions in current order of popularity (some more suited to long term use but including anyway):

    1. Markets – farmers, Christmas, street food, alternative like Camden.
    2. Green space with benches, ideally refreshments, wildflower meadow. Separate section for bee hives. Water feature.
    3. Performance/Entertainment space – lots of support for open air cinema, also festivals, events, outdoor exhibitions.
    4. Activities – wide range suggested. Table tennis, crazy golf, trampoline, zip wire, bowling green, play areas, cycling track, pump track, skate park, ice rink, roller skating, ferris wheel., graffiti wall.
    5. Allotments/raised beds for community use with food donated to local charities, involve schools.
    6. Box Park to help up and coming businesses.
    7. Car Park
    8. Boot Fair
    9. Sculpture Park
    10. Shipping containers for temporary housing.

  9. People have mentioned the lack of activities for teenagers/young adults. Maybe consult Youth Forum, involve schools. Skinners Kent Academy pupils had a project to look at use of the site (not meanwhile but may have some suitable ideas).

  10. Summary of Ideas for Meanwhile Use from the Tunbridge Wells Facebook Group
    Over 300 comments and lots of different ideas showing people care deeply about this site. Summary of suggestions in current order of popularity (some more suited to long term use but including anyway):
    1. Markets – farmers, Christmas, street food, alternative like Camden.
    2. Green space with benches, ideally refreshments, wildflower meadow. Separate section for bee hives. Water feature.
    3. Performance/Entertainment space – lots of support for open air cinema, also festivals, events, outdoor exhibitions.
    4. Activities – wide range suggested. Table tennis, crazy golf, trampoline, zip wire, bowling green, play areas, cycling track, pump track, skate park, ice rink, roller skating, ferris wheel., graffiti wall.
    5. Allotments/raised beds for community use with food donated to local charities, involve schools.
    6. Box Park to help up and coming businesses.
    7. Car Park
    8. Boot Fair
    9. Sculpture Park
    10. Shipping containers for temporary housing.

  11. We have an embarrassing amount of green spaces in T Wells already. How about somewhere for everyone including teenagers, the ice rink is always so popular, what about a nice green area but with a cycle and skating path going round and through it. Great place for everyone to enjoy.

  12. New allotments. Never to be developed

  13. Great to see a sensible range of “meanwhile” ideas. I would like to see a number of initiatives based upon a “temporary” green space to support local private enterprise and residents:
    1. Park area for young children and parents. With seating and swings.
    2. Planted area with benches
    3. Market stalls, for local produce
    4. Cafe stalls
    5. Street food stalls

  14. I would like to see a kitchen garden with a cafe.
    Petersham nurseries would be the type of set up that would work on this site.
    The produce grown on site could be used in the cafe and any surplus could go to the food bank or be sold on site
    It has the potential to be a really attractive feature in the centre of the town while retaining a green and open space and producing food!

  15. Green space. Some raised beds and allow local primary schools access to come and plant and grom veg & flowers.
    Great hands on lessons to engage young kids in eating better; growing veg – so lots of longer lasting benefits.
    I would get raised beds sponsored by local companies (I for one would do that) and it will have minimal cost to the council.

  16. Tunbridge Wells has plenty of gorgeous green space already. A Box Park or something akin to Pop Brixton would be amazing, with independent, new restaurants, retail, design and social enterprise.

  17. I would support all of the ideas above as they all have credibility, however I do think you need have a sense perspective on this development. It will cost at least £1m to level, clear waste and make the area safe before you start creating anything. Axa will only agree to this if their plans are accepted. If councillors insist on mixed use then the project becomes unviable. One also has to question how buyers feel about spending £1m on an apartment without parking. An alternative option would be to release the Assembly Halls ( with a current £500k subsidy and costing £1m’s in repairs) to Axa and use cash to purchase the site under CPO rules. Any surplus could be used to pair down the deficit and support Trinity as the alternative theatre. Then all of your ideas could come to fruition and would generate further income from local sponsorship.Post election we need a referendum on the future of the civic buildings and what options lay before us. Too much happens behind closed doors.

  18. ANYTHING bar more Retirement Flats. Tunbridge Wells is an expensive place to live for the younger generation. We don’t need any more retirement properties, we need more affordable housing that is both accessible to, and representative of, local budgets (for those under 30!). We have a significant number of ‘retirement villages’ already (The Old Dairy, Southborough Gate and so on…) all of which seem to have more supply than demand – demand that is abound in all those under 35.

    Personally, I’d rather see the council simply buy the site outright and put it back in the hands of the people that should be using it. The ideas already submitted of a pop-up market, or space for local businesses, is great – especially with the gradual decline of the RVP and commercial rents sky high everywhere else.

    If there is a commitment to build properties – please, let’s make them more representative. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in TW is a millionaire and it’s about time we appreciate that the younger generation will simply leave before long; and the town centre and surrounding area will take the brunt.

  19. I think the site should be turned into a Lidl or Aldi. Maybe a Poundland too. I believe businesses like these would reflect well upon the town and its residents.

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