Barking and Dagenham’s burgeoning reputation as London’s latest creative hotspot took another boost after councillors gave the green light to plans at a cabinet meeting (13 November) to create a new arthouse cinema on the site of a former leisure centre.

The plans to redevelop the old Abbey Sports Centre, Barking, will see a new two screen cinema run by operators Arthouse together with 170 apartments with at least 35 per cent at below market rate.

The development by Lindhill Properties also includes Care City (a joint venture between the council and North East London Foundation Trust), and two retail units.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “These plans will help improve the borough’s health in terms of art and social life.

“The new arthouse cinema will satisfy the soul for film lovers and add vibrancy to the town centre, while Care City will help address the health issues we have in the borough.

“And, the new affordable flats will help local people find a new home. It’s a great deal all round.”

The plans were put together by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration company.

Ed Skeates, Be First Development Director, said: “This deal with provide an income for the council, deliver on homes and health and boost Barking and Dagenham’s reputation as London’s latest creative hotspot.”

Lee Fitzpatrick, Director at Lindhill Properties Ltd, said: “We are delighted to contribute towards a dynamic and inclusive project for the town centre and welcome the support from the council and Be First towards such an exciting opportunity in an up-and-coming borough.

“This development will only contribute to the impressive regeneration already taking place in Barking and we believe all proposals will be enjoyed and utilised by the borough’s residents for generations to come.

“Alongside all this, it is further rewarding to be involved with a scheme that will truly enhance the area as a civic quarter which complements the existing surrounding leisure, cultural and community uses in the town centre.”

Sam Neophytou, Director of Arthouse said: “Following on from the huge success of Arthouse Crouch End, we know the importance of providing a communal experience.

“Our aim is to make the Arts affordable and accessible to all in our community with fair ticket pricing and additional concessions for seniors, children and students on all shows!”

The plans will go before the council’s planning committee for a decision on 10 December.