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BFI plans South Bank film centre

The most sophisticated film centre in the world is being planned for the South Bank at a cost of £35m.

The British Film Institute wants to replace the National Film Theatre and the former Museum of the Moving Image with five of the most advanced cinemas yet built. The centre would also house the institute's collections, including the biggest film-related library in the world, currently based near Tottenham Court Road.

Audience capacity would rise from 750 in the three screens to 1,250 across all five, with a 700-seat main screen far bigger than the existing NFT1, which can hold 450.

It will enable about 500 more film and television titles to be shown each year from the National Film and Television Archive.

The BFI is confident that it can raise the money and has already produced sophisticated outline plans.

The project is dependent on the South Bank Centre, which is the NFT's landlord at its current site and owns the land of the proposed development.

Nothing can proceed without its permission, yet its own masterplan for the area has been repeatedly revised and delayed in recent years.

David Chipperfield, the architect appointed to create the institute's new home, said: "Unfortunately, however organised the BFI are, the South Bank Centre masterplan isn't sorted out and the BFI can't do things unilaterally."

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