An Italian family-run restaurant in Notting Hill is fighting back against Cineworld which plans to demolish the restaurant in order to expand the neighbouring Gate Cinema's foyer.
The Trattoria Da Maria has been open since 1980. It is housed next door to the Gate Cinema, part of the Picturehouse group which is owned by Cineworld.
The landlord Imperial Resources and architects De Rosee Sa have submitted a planning application to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council to extend the cinema's foyer. "The vision behind this proposal has been to achieve an improvement in the appearance and functionality of the cinema while also being in keeping with the character and appearance of the building," it states.
This would mean that Da Maria would have to be demolished. The application reads: "A large aluminium framed fixed window will replace the tired Da Maria shop front." And outlines plans to allow for more space for guests to "enjoy food and beverages before a film and reduce congestion."
In response to the application, which has a target date for decision as 28 September 2017, Da Maria launched a Change.org petition.
The petition page reads: "Out of nowhere, with no warning and last-minute notification while the family was away during August, the Gate Cinema next door wants to "demolish" the small area in which the restaurant functions to expand the cinema foyer.
"This manoeuvre - fraught with procedural shortcomings - takes place in the charged atmosphere of the destruction of independent businesses in Notting Hill, and soul-searching about priorities in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea after the Grenfell Tower fire."
It was featured in the Observer's OFM Favourite 50 last year and recently Jay Rayner reviewed the restaurant in an attempt to save it.
He said: "All of this is under threat and for what exactly? Six extra square metres or so on a cinema foyer. It wouldn't just be the end of a lovely restaurant run by lovely people. It would be another blow to an idea: that even in a city like London, increasingly engineered for a population that thinks taps come gold-plated as standard, there is still a place for those on lower incomes."
The petition now has almost 1,500 signatures.
In the comments section, supporter Lucy Daniels said: "I have been going to Maria's since the 1980s. It is the sort of place that gives Notting Hill its charm. Small, independent, friendly and great coffee. Some of the big decisions in my life (and many friends' lives) have been made over a cappuccino there."
Gail Norwood said: "Keep towns individual. Let's keep independent thriving business." While Ken Riddell commented: "It's very important if we want to be a society that says it cares."
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