The redevelopment of a Bollywood cinema could see a new arts movement come to Harrow – and its founder believes it will help restore a sense of community to the area.

Cinema group ArtHouse wants to revive the building as part of a scheme at the Safari Cinema site, in Station Road, Harrow.

A planning application has been submitted to Harrow Council to build 78 flats in a block up to 11 storeys high while retaining a cinema.

The developer also plans to restore the current building’s 1936 art deco façade, which has been covered up by metal cladding for decades.

And Sam Neophytou, who founded ArtHouse cinema in Crouch End, believes the project is the perfect opportunity to breathe new life into Harrow town centre.

“We’ve convinced the developer that it would be a brilliant fit,” he said.

“There’s this sense that the high street is dying and it’s important to have places that everyone can go to.

“And there’s a desperate need to invest in our creative industries – particularly in London.

“We want to encourage people to start making things and putting them out there.”

This will include a series of workshops for budding filmmakers and those who want to get involved with cinema.

Sam believes this is at the heart of ArtHouse, giving people a chance to tell their stories and getting them onto a big screen.

It is reflected in the type of things shown at the cinema, which will house four screens, each one accommodating around 100 people.

As well as offering mainstream pictures, he plans to show independent films and productions from the National Theatre.

“Things are changing in cinema – the things coming out are more about humanity and the struggles people have,” Sam said.

“It’s not as if people don’t want to hear these minority stories. They are some of our most popular screenings and have won loads of awards.”

And in terms of the National Theatre showings – at Crouch End they recently screened recordings of Fleabag and The Lehman Trilogy – Sam notes it has made ‘going to the theatre’ more accessible and affordable.

The concept of affordability is a criticism that is often levelled at cinemas.

Sam sees the cost of around £10 during peak hours as reasonable and pointed out that there are regular discounts, particularly for students and seniors.

This all comes back to the idea of community and providing a space for people to go to in their town centre.

“It’s important to have somewhere that appeals to everyone, somewhere where they can go to, feel safe and comfortable and enjoy themselves,” he said.

“We have people coming in every other day, whether to see a film or have coffee.

“In Crouch End the MP uses the cinema to hold a surgery and the local LGBT community regularly meet there.

“It’s a bit like a social club or a community centre and it’s a wonderful thing to bring people together.”