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Discussions ongoing over future of Slough's Empire Cinema in proposed shopping centre redevelopment

Slough’s Empire Cinema is ‘unlikely’ to remain in its current form if the Queensmere Observatory Shopping Centre is redeveloped, a council officer has said.

Development and investment firm British Land is drawing up plans for the regeneration of the town centre site, which was bought by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) in 2016.

Councillors received an update on the project during a meeting on Thursday, with the council confirming discussions are ongoing about the cinema’s future.

Kassandra Polyzoides, service lead for regeneration development, told the council’s Neighbourhoods and Community Services Scrutiny Panel: “A discussion we’re having at the moment is the prescence of the cinema.

“The one thing that we can agree on is that it doesn’t need to be the scale and take up the same footprint as the current one because that’s no longer what is of appeal and the best use of space within the town centre.”

She added that a smaller replacement cinema could be built on the ADIA-owned land but the use of the current cinema site is expected to change.

“Whatever ends up going there is unlikely to be a cinema,” Ms Polyzoides told councillors.

 “If anything it’s going to be of a much smaller footprint because that’s the direction those leisure facilities are taking.”

Cllr Christine Hulme (Lab, Central) said at the meeting that the developer, British Land, needs to get more public involvement in shaping the plans.

She said: “If this is obviously a long-term redevelopment, in order for it to get anywhere near people’s expectations there needs to be a far greater involvement from people in terms of what they want or else it will be constant moaning.”

A masterplan for the long-awaited redevelopment is expected to be made public in November, with a target of 2021 set for the submission of a planning application.

Empire Cinemas has been contacted for comment.

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