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The public was able to view plans to restore The Regal and tour the former cinema
Plans to covert a cinema building into office space have been revealed to the public.
Total Security Services (TSS) bought The Regal in Hale End Road, Highams Park, and the neighbouring former Shelz restaurant last year with the intention of creating a new headquarters for its 4,000 staff nationwide.
An initial application for the site was submitted in November and withdrawn soon after.
Now, after months of negotiations with conservationists and Waltham Forest Council planners, TSS and Loughton-based Clear Architects presented new designs yesterday in the foyer of the former cinema.
TSS plan to demolish the former restaurant and erect a new five-storey office space, including a basement, as well as restore the original facade of The Regal.
Access to both buildings will be created through a glass panelled wall, while the existing frontage of The Regal will be used as the main entrance to the firm's headquarters.
The main office space building will be set back half a metre from The Regal to ensure the former cinema remains the focal point of the main road.
TSS managing director, Ricky Gardezi, was on site to discuss the plans with the public.
He said: "This appealed to me because of my heritage with the site. I remember walking past The Regal when I was a young boy and saying to my father 'one day I would like to own that building'.
"The proposal will guarantee jobs and employment opportunities and I feel this design is more in-keeping than the previous design."
Mr Gardezi also said the public event seemed like the "right thing to do" given the "overwhelming public interest".
More than 100 people took a tour of the former cinema, with the majority offering positive feedback.
Derek Hamilton, 51, of Larkshall Road, said: “regenerating the area is what needs to happen and will show businesses there is life outside of the city."
Treasurer of the Highams Park Society, Andrew Golds, also welcomed the plans.
He said: "Nice to see plans to bring it back to its former glory. It will be better than it is now.
"I am very happy with the prospects to re-instate The Regal and not see it demolished. It is an iconic feature of Highams Park"
John Richard Playle, a Beech Hall Road resident of 70 years and former cinema visitor, described the potential restoration as a "new era" and said he would "love to see people walking in an out of The Regal".
However, Christopher Gill, of Beech Hall Road, expressed concern abut the plans.
"TSS is attempting to turn the street into an office block.
"The proposals for the main office at Shelz will overshadow our gardens.
"It is nonsense at a time when there is this great push for the revival of our high street to see Hale End Road being transformed into a business development," said Mr Gill.
As part of the planning application, TSS has negotiated 40 parking spaces for employees and visitors at the Tesco site in Larkshall Road.
Councillor Paul Braham of Hale End and Highams Park said he was "pleased" with the plans but called on Mr Gardezi to "ensure TSS employees and visitors use the parking space reserved for them in Tesco and stop parking in the side streets."
TSS plans to submit the application to Waltham Forest Council in the next six weeks.
If the application is rejected, Mr Gardezi has said he will put The Regal back on the market and move his 25 year-old business out of Highams Park.
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