Revealed: latest plans for the former Pizza Express building

One things for certain, the development’s not going to be finished until 2015. But what exactly is happening to the landmark former assembly hall?

Artist's impression of the Pizza Express building with proposed flats on top
Artist’s impression of the Pizza Express building with proposed flats on top

Last night dozens of Kentishtowners crammed around the unveiling by architects Allies & Morrison of the latest plans for the iconic former Pizza Express building, which dates back to 1929. It’s no surprise that it’s such a hot topic, after much discussion underneath our many articles.

First impressions? The history of the building and proposed plans were laid out quite clearly (although the finer points were still a little fuzzy), with the architects, who also did the original residential conversion of 1 Prince Of Wales Road, keen to engage opinion.

Unlike the previous much-derided plans for the building, these latest proposals leave the much-loved facade in tact, but they do add twelve swanky apartments (mostly two bed) in a two storey block on top. And it’s this rooftop addition “set back from the existing facade and sensitively designed” that may prove controversial amongst the building’s campaigners.

Click to see full size
Click to see full size

The ground floor will be preserved in its historic function as a “congregational” space, promised director Artur Carulla, who also assured concerned locals that it won’t be a club or pub. Our view is that a cinema or arts space seems unlikely, however, due to both commercial reasons and the way the space is being carved up. We reckon it’ll be a restaurant or shop, inevitably.

And the mood? One of cautious approval, with some residents concerned about too much noise, the new windows being leaded in the same style, the scale of the extension. “My personal view is that they’ve made a genuine effort at consultation here,” said John Nicholson of the Inkerman Conservation Area, who also helps organise the popular Alma Street Fair: “I quite like the overall design but have some concerns about height and bulk of extra floors on building. I’d like to see ground floor as flexible small units capable of multi use eg workshop units, small retail, craft stalls and not some retail chain.”

But retail chain or not, the overhaul is set to take a minimum of eighteen months, with the opening right into early 2015.

So what on earth can us Kentishtowners do with the building for the many months until work starts? How about that temporary arts space, market or gallery after all?

What did you think of the proposals?

  • Show Comments

  • Tim

    Looks pretty good. Better to use the space for something that can drive regular daily footfall and encourage the local economy, e.g. small retail units and workshops, that can be used by anyone, than one big arts space or cinema that only attracts some Kentishtowners, and mostly at weekends

  • Dave Hodgkinson (@davehodg)


  • Sally

    Must retain the leaded windows

  • Phil

    Very disappointed to discover that prospects of a cinema are unlikely. Once again developers with their swanky, over-priced, pokey apartments triumph over the wishes and desires of local residents.

  • Bart Hughes

    Can Kentishtowners run their own cinema night? Whilst I appreciate we’re hardly flix in the stix, surely demand is high enough and this might just kick-start those unnamed cinema companies into action…I don’t think we should just give up on this…

  • the beat experience

    I completely agree with Phil.
    There are already enough new developments in the area. NW5 needs more choice of entertainment which is why a cinema would have been great. We have plenty of music venues already, plenty of cafés and pubs, plenty of housing too.

    Whatever happened to the discussions with the potential two independent cinemas that kentishtowner mentioned last month??

    Of course new developments make more money, but there comes a moment when we need to think of quality of life and amenities vs more housing on a noisy corner of the road with related parking issues for everyone who lives nearby. The people benefiting will be the developers, certainly not the locals.

    I thought you might have provided more of a stance vs this is what’s happening angle on this subject.

  • PrinceofWalesDaniel

    Using this big space as a cinema or multi-media site would’ve been lovely, but this is not a community space: it’s privately-owned. The use it’s put to is up to the owners, within the limits set by planners etc.

  • Ken Cooper

    North Western Polytechnic.