Image: Picture Palace Campaign / Cinema4Crystal Palace


The church which owns the cinema building at 25 Church Road are asking a massive FIVE MILLION pounds for it.

Agents acting for KICC (Kingsway International Christian Centre)  are offering the cinema building as a “refurbished bingo/cinema building or development opportunity.”

One cinema campaigner said they had rung KICC’s agents who are based at Hoe Street, Walthamstow very close to KICC’s main church.

“I asked if there was a guide price and they said the client was looking for c £5million. “I asked if this has been valued by a chartered surveyor and they replied that the client was testing the market.

“I mentioned that the property was an Asset of Community Value and they said that they thought it wasn’t.”

One estate agent on the Triangle told News From Crystal Palace: “The price seems ambitious and given community feeling regarding the building’s use it would be a brave developer to take on such an apparently expensive project. “It could become a white elephant.”

In April a planning inspector threw out KICC’s appeal against a Bromley council refusal of planning permission.

The inspector’s report said: “The lawful use of the building is so important to the overall function of the centre that the loss of the opportunity to reinstate a use exclusively within Class D2 should not be lost at this stage.

“Given the strength of local support for the retention of the Class D2 use this is a material consideration in the appeal.

“25 Church Road is the only large building of its type in the town centre. “The National Planning Policy Framework contains policies that seek to ensure their vitality.

“Whilst the list of main town centre uses in the glossary includes entertainment it does not include places of worship.”

The Picture Palace Campaign was set up on 24 June 2009, after a group of local residents, traders and ward councillors got together at the Royal Albert public house on Westow Hill.

The catalyst was the secret sale of the Gala bingo hall, 25 Church Road (originally built as the Rialto Cinema), to KICC, which narrowly outbid independent cinema operator City Screen which runs Picturehouse Cinemas in Brixton, Clapham, and elsewhere in the UK.


Bromley council have refused to allow developers to go ahead with plans to redevelop the neighbouring cinema building to 25 Church Road – plans which were first approved in 2003.

The council say: “Insufficient information has been submitted to enable the local planning authority to establish that the development had commenced within five years from the date of the grant of planning permission on 27th March 2003.

“The proposal does not therefore comply with the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.”

Plasnning permission (ref 02/00134/FULL1) was originally given for demolition of existing building and erection of three/four storey building comprising 1 one bedroom, 9 two bedroom and 1 three bedroom flats and 10 basement car parking spaces ( Century House 37-41 Church Road).

CINEMA HISTORY: The Rialto at 25 Church Road opened on Saturday October 6, 1928 with Ramona starring Dolores Del Rio. Anna May Wong and John Stuart were guests at the opening night where Miss Wong addressed the crowds with a few words of Chinese.

An Australian, A C Matthews, built both the Rialto and the neighbouring Albany cinema. He also built the State cinemas in Sydenham and Thornton Heath. In September 1950 the Rialto was renamed the Granada. (For pictures of the various incarnations of the Rialto please visit the Picture Palace Campaign website).

The Albany opened in January 1930 being built on derelict land in just 15 weeks. The opening attraction was The Glad Rag Doll starring Dolores Costello, and High Society starring Laura La Plante.

On the outbreak of World War Two the cinema was closed and requisitioned as a Government food store. Released in January 1948 it reopened as a cinema that October before being acquired by the Granada group.

Closed for reconstruction it reopened its doors on Boxing Day 1950 as the Century. The Century closed for a ‘rest period’ on May 30 1958. It never reopened.

In March 1960 the Norwood News reported the opening of Selhurst Park Garages new showrooms in the former cinema. The building is still there today adjacent to the Gala Bingo Hall.

The Granada shut its doors on Saturday May 26, 1968. Its final screening was Reflections in a Golden Eye supported by Assignment to Kill. It was converted into a Granada Bingo Club a month later. Gala Bingo took it over in 1991. Kingsway International Christian Centre bought the building in a secret deal in 2009. The Picture Palace Campaign, formed to bring a cinema back to Crystal Palace, was founded just weeks later.

FURTHER READING: CHURCH LOSE APPEAL OVER CINEMA BUILDING: “Plans would harm town centre’s vitality” says inspector – April 22, 2016 (On this website, along with numerous other stories on the same subject.)

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