CINEMA CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed Bromley council’s decision to make the former cinema building at 25 Church Road, Upper Norwood an ‘asset of community value’.

The move follows a request by the Picture Palace Campaign – set up to
bring a cinema back to Crystal Palace after the former cinema was sold
by Gala Bingo to church group KICC (Kingsway International Christian
Centre) in a secret deal in 2009.

A Picture Palace Campaign statement welcoming the move says: “This is a first for Crystal Palace and something to celebrate – a significant milestone in ensuring the continued recognition of the importance and heritage of the district centre’s largest and only D2 public entertainment venue.

“This building has a long history of providing local entertainment and still retains some evidence of its grand 1920s cinema origins, in spite of KICC’s internal refurbishment (as a replica of their church in Hoe Street, Walthamstow) and their attempt to significantly alter the appearance of the façade back in 2011 which was refused at planning committee.

“The former Rialto cinema has the capacity to be easily renovated into a vibrant cinema for the 21st century. “Fully restored as a cinema it would be perfectly placed to enhance the economic and social vigour of Crystal Palace as a key cultural anchor for the town centre.

“The building is now formally listed on Bromley’s ‘Assets of Community Value’ register. “But challenges remain to returning the building to its full potential and to a use welcomed and supported by the vast majority of the community.”

A public meeting organised by the Campaign – which wants to restore the cinema in Crystal Palace for the benefit of the whole community – was held at the Queen’s hotel, Church Road in October 2009. The meeting attracted around 1,000 people. An application to change the use of the building to a church was turned down by a Bromley council plans sub-committee in December that year.

In its latest message to supporters the Campaign says:

“Since we started the campaign, we have explored a number of sites in Crystal Palace which might have been suitable for a cinema. “As we all know, new development opportunities are very limited in the area especially with the pressure and premium on housing, which is why it is important to protect those buildings which could potentially deliver a cinema and already have the required D2 planning use class.

“At the time of writing, we can confirm that there is still a willing purchaser for 25 Church Road that is prepared to invest a significant amount of money to bring a professionally run cinema back to Crystal Palace providing a cultural venue for the benefit of the whole community regardless of background or belief and a use that would make a major contribution to supporting the economic vitality and viability of our town centre.

“The Picture Palace Campaign, which is made up of people who live, work and trade in the area, will continue to stand up for what we consider to be the best use of this ‘asset of community value’ for promoting the social, economic and cultural regeneration of Crystal Palace.

Thank you for your continued support, we wouldn’t be here without you.”

In a letter to the Campaign Bromley council say:

“RE: Assets of Community Value Nomination

25 Church Road, Crystal Palace, London SE19 2TE

I am writing to inform you that the authority has reviewed your
group’s nomination and has decided that 25 Church Road meets the
definition of a community asset and will be listed. The reasons for
reaching this decision are as follows:

The local authority assessed the information available against Section
88 of the Localism Act 2011

It is the opinion of the authority that 25 Church Road should be
listed under Section 88 (1) (a) (b) of the Localism Act 2011

The owner of the asset will be informed of the decision. If the owner
objects to their property being placed on the List, they have the
right to appeal against the decision in eight weeks from the date
written notice of the listing is given.

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