THE future of Stratford Picturehouse looks bleak this week amid news that plans for a £5million hotel on the site are being drawn up.
Igor Kolodotschko, who owns the building, has revealed to the Herald that he will be submitting a planning application as soon as next month.
The news comes just days before Stratford’s newest four-screen Everyman Cinema is due to open its doors at Bell Court.
Mr Kolodotschko said that through the communications he has had with Picturehouse he understands that the chain would like to move out before its lease expires in 2020.
He added that the cinema, the unit formerly occupied by Jimmy Spices restaurant and two neighbouring offices would be demolished to allow the new hotel building to be constructed, should the plan be approved.
He said that the four-star hotel would incorporate around 100 rooms and would be run by either the Hampton by Hilton or the Moxy by Marriott chain.
Mr Kolodotschko said: “We did look at building housing, but then we would lose our interest in the site and we also looked at restaurants, but there just wasn’t the interest because they are all moving into Bell Court at the moment.
“We will probably invest around £4-5million in the new hotel. I’m very sad that Picture house are leaving, I’m getting on a bit and redeveloping the site will be a big project, but we’ve got to do it.
“Picturehouse have told me they do not intend renewing their lease. It will clearly be difficult for them to compete with the new Everyman Cinema.
“We have had quite a bit of interest in the site, with three major hotel chains expressing an interest.
“I’m sure a hotel would work there, these big chains do all their sums and figures, so they must be confident it will be a success.”
He added that he is yet to receive formal notification from Picturehouse that they will not be extending their lease, but has been told by employees at the company during various meetings and communications.
However Picturehouse, which is owned by Cineworld and recently marked its 20th year in Stratford, would not confirm this week that they plan to leave the site, claiming a decision has not yet been made and a meeting about its future was being planned.
A spokesperson for the company, told the Herald this week: “The Picturehouse lease on the building expires in September 2020. We have received no notice from the landlord to either renew or relinquish the lease.
“No decision has yet been made (on renewing the lease), it will be made nearer the time. We are reviewing all our options, and talking to our landlord.”
There has been widespread speculation over the future of the Picturehouse since the developers of Bell Court confirmed that a new multi-screen cinema would be its anchor tenant.
During the initial public consultation into redeveloping Bell Court members of the public questioned whether Stratford could sustain two cinemas, with some suggesting a bowling alley as an alternative.
Speaking to the Herald last week, before news of the closure, Crispin Lilly, chief executive of Everyman, said he believed there was more than enough business for both cinemas, indicating that even with a total of six screens in the town, this was still below the national average in terms of screens per person.
Joe Baconnet, director of Stratforward Business Improvement District, said: “We are saddened if the Picturehouse has decided not to carry on beyond the end of their lease, but we have to respect their decision as they understand their business.
“In terms of the planning application, we will wait and see exactly what is proposed, but any proposal will need to respect emerging development plans and potential economic impacts.”