An extraordinary story…

Since the UCKG have missed their opportunity in the High Court to challenge the government’s decision to refuse them planning permission we understand attempts are being made to negotiate an eventual sale of the cinema.

There is no timetable in place to do this and it’s expected to be a lengthy process. Although the cinema has been closed for 10 years, the people of St Albans have been without their one for 18 years – however, in Spring 2014 it is due to re-open as a revived 1930’s picture palace – so there is plenty of hope for our cause! Read about the St Albans Odeon story here

From one extraordinary story to another…

Save Walthamstow Cinema and The McGuffins have been working with Charles S.P. Jenkins, author of stories-of-london.org which celebrates the fascinating world of the UK capital.

Charles, a former East End resident, has delved deep into the life of our cinema to produce a colourful and amusing tribute to this beautiful building, which he has dedicated to the supporters of it – ie. YOU.

Packed with rarely seen images, from opening night in 1930 to the gala last night in 2003, this could be the definitive story of the Granada Walthamstow. Read and see it all here

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UCKG planning appeals REJECTED

We’re delighted to confirm that planning appeals to convert the EMD cinema into a UCKG Helpcentre with community use/cinema provision have been dismissed by the government and planning permission has been refused.

This follows agreement by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government of the planning inspectorate’s  recommendation to refusal UCKG’s appeals.

The Planning Inspectorate’s full report is here: 13-05-22 Hoe St Comb DL-IR-CN

UCKG have six weeks to challenge the decision in the High Court. Waltham Forest Council pledged last year to consider a compulsory purchase of the cinema should UCKG refuse to negotiate selling it to Waltham Forest Cinema Trust in the event of these appeals being rejected.

Reports covering the decision and response from cinema supporters and the UCKG are here:

http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/10438601.EMD_cinema_appeal_rejected/?ref=mc:

http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/10440003.Campaigners_urge_UCKG_to_sell_former_EMD_cinema_after_appeal_rejected/?ref=ar

http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/10440656.UCKG__totally_committed__to_building_church_after_EMD_cinema_appeal_rejected/?ref=mc

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EMD film report

The Planning Inspectorate is due to make their recommendation to Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP on UCKG’s planning appeals this May.

While we await his decision and find out if the Communities Secretary upholds or rejects it, here’s a short film and article by Alan Selby, interviewing Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy and Bill Hodgson of the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust and McGuffin Film Society.

http://selbyalan.com/blog/pickles-to-rule-on-controversial-church-plans-for-walthamstow-cinema/

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2012 in review

A huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in the campaign this year. The site received 8,600 views in 2012. The busiest day of the year was September 4th with 492 views and the most popular post that day was Officers recommend UCKG plans are rejected. Yay! Our visitors come not only from the UK but also the United States and Australia! Happy New Year to everyone!

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Message from Waltham Forest Cinema Trust

WFCTlogow-o

Now that the Planning Inquiry has finished hearing evidence, WFCT would like to thank the very many people who contributed to our part of the process – outlining the exciting vision for a 21st century entertainment venue in this historic building.

The Inquiry itself was a real test of the viability of those plans and they came through some tough scrutiny looking more robust than ever. Indeed, during the Inquiry we obtained a firm offer of £2m loan financing which would enable us to secure the building and move to a ‘first phase’ refurbishment to re-open the doors with a limited programme. This is a major step forward as our vision now have the cash to back it up.

Amongst those we would like to acknowledge are:

–          Soho Theatre, our lead partner, who underwrote WFCT’s legal costs and whose ongoing support makes the business plan viable

–          Curzon Cinemas who have brought great professionalism and a passion for cinema

–          Sadie Frost and Andrew Green who will be an important part of the future and have helped us to secure the offer of loan funding

–          Ian Ritchie Architects, our award-winning architects, who have put together a fantastic scheme; Richard Oyarzabal, Graham Devlin and Bryan Savery for their work on the business planning and all our witnesses.

–          Arts Council England and the London Borough of Waltham Forest for showing the belief to fund the feasibility studies.

–          The Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Rep Theatre and colleagues within the arts world who will bring educational and artistic projects to the new Granada.

–          Our legal team who worked very hard to present our case so well.

–          Above all, the local people, businesses, politicians and campaigners who have given wholehearted support to our plans.

The next steps for the Inquiry will be more work from the Planning Inspector and a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, who is expected to make a decision in late Spring 2013.

At WFCT, we will take a short break before regrouping early in the New Year to further develop our plans towards securing and financing the purchase of this historic building.

We will also have more to say about our vision for the Granada, what the programme will look like and how it will work. We’re keen to share this with all supporters of the campaign – and, if they exist, any doubters – and we want to make sure we hear your thoughts about what you’d like to see there.

Meantime, thank you again. Seasonal greetings and a very Happy New Year from all of us at Waltham Forest Cinema Trust; let’s hope that 2013 is a memorable year for the Walthamstow Granada.

WFCT 

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Council agrees in principal to buy cinema

Waltham Forest Council’s senior councillors have agreed in principal to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) which could force UCKG to sell the EMD. This is crucially dependant on UCKG losing both their planning Appeals and then refusing to agree to sell the building.

It is a positive step and one that has been made possible since the formation of Waltham Forest Cinema Trust which itself came about thanks to the tireless and dedicated support from so many cinema campaigners over the years,  and especially the local community in Waltham Forest.

Read UCKG’s reaction to a CPO here

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Last day to save Walthamstow

Apologies to everyone who is getting campaign fatigue but did you know the Boundary Commission plans to abolish Walthamstow as a constituency? This could mean the loss of many councillors who have supported the restoration of the cinema, not to mention our tireless MP.

Today is the last day to object to these plans. But don’t worry, the Our Walthamstow campaign has a very easy to use online letter generator. It sets out the main points and allows you change or add your own. Please, if you can, take a few minutes to make a difference and go to the Our Walthamstow letter generator. You will also find more about the campaign including a video shot in the Rose and Crown pub.

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Attending the EMD Public Inquiry

The following information has been published by Waltham Forest Council:

FORMER GRANADA/EMD CINEMA

PUBLIC INQUIRY 29TH NOVEMBER- 19TH DECEMBER

NOTICE FOR ANYONE ATTENDING THE INQUIRY

This inquiry has generated a large amount of public interest and the Council wishes to make sure that anyone who wants to attend can. However, space is limited.

If you are interested in attending the Inquiry, we recommend that you try to come on one of the following days, when the Inquiry will be taking place in the Assembly Hall:

Thursday 29th November                                                                                                              Friday 30th November                                                                                                                    Tuesday 4th December                                                                                                                 Wednesday 12th December                                                                                                        Thursday 13th December                                                                                                             Wednesday 19th December

You can also attend on any or all of the following days, but on these days the Inquiry will be in the Council Chamber and space will be limited, and available on a ‘first come first served basis

Wednesday 5th December                                                                                                                   Thursday 6th December                                                                                                                        Friday 7th December                                                                                                                           Tuesday 11th December                                                                                                                         Friday 14th December                                                                                                                        Tuesday 18th December

If you are interested in attending and speaking at the Inquiry, then you should be aware that a day has been reserved for this – Wednesday 12th December. If possible you should organise your time so that you can attend and speak on this day.

We also recommend that you:

    • Attend on the first day (10am on Thursday 29th November) and give your name, the topic you want to speak on and, if possible, a written note of what you plan to say to Martha Clark who will be taking all names of attendees; OR
    • Email the same details (your name, the topic you want to speak on and, if possible, a written note of what you plan to say) to Martha Clark (Martha.Clark@walthamforest.gov.uk) or write to Martha c/o London Borough of Waltham Forest, Sycamore House. Rear of Walthamstow Town Hall. Forest Road. Walthamstow E17 4JF

The Inspector will not refuse permission for any third party to speak on other days; this is simply to try to be as fair as possible to all of the third parties who want to make their views known.

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EMD Public Inquiry – a brief guide

Some Q & A on the inquiry that decides the fate of our cinema

Q. When and where is the inquiry being held?
A. It starts Thurs 29th November and is planned to end on 19th December, weekdays only (except Mondays) from approx 10am-5pm alternating between Walthamstow Assembly Hall and the adjacent Waltham Forest Town Hall (see our attendance guide for details).

Q. Why is a public inquiry being held?
A. It gives both the UCKG, the council and the national planning inspectorate an opportunity to discuss in detail the UCKG’s latest 2 planning applications and whether the council were right to reject them.

Q. Who attends the inquiry?
A. It’s a bit like a court case so principally involves legal teams from the council and appellant (UCKG), planning officers, witnesses supporting both ‘sides’ and the planning inspector.

Q. What about Waltham Forest Cinema Trust?
A. Yes, they will be putting forward their plans for the cinema so the planning inspector will hear the alternative vision for the building as well as the council’s reasons for rejecting UCKG’s proposals.

Q. Will the campaign be represented?                                                                                              A. Save Walthamstow Cinema received confirmation from the planning inspectorate that our objections sent to them on behalf of supporters have been acknowledged and will be included. There will be a speaker from both the SWC campaign, the McGuffin Film Society and at least one residents association plus several others to be advised.

Q. Can I speak at the inquiry?
A. The inspector will give the opportunity for people both for and against UCKG’s plans to speak, although with much of the inquiry taken up with expert testimony, this will be limited. Ideally you will already have written to the inspectorate by 1st November deadline with your views. See attendance guide for how you can book a speaking slot.

Q. Does it help the campaign if I attend the inquiry, even if I don’t speak?
A. Yes, by being there it shows the strength of support both for the cinema and the Trust’s plans.

Q. When will a decision be made?                                                                                                      A. Once the inspector reaches his verdict, it will be passed to the government Secretary of State to make the final decision, possibly in Spring 2013. The result will either reject the UCKG’s appeals or approve them, thus granting UCKG planning consent.

For further info, please email hello@savewalthamstowcinema.org and we’ll do our best to help. Watch this space for further updates.

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UCKG appeal against their rejected planning applications

PLANNING APPEAL – YOUR HELP IS NEEDED – DEADLINE 1ST NOVEMBER!
UCKG have appealed against the rejection of their latest planning applications. We need everyone to tell the national planning inspectorate (who will decide this appeal) that they object to the UCKG’s plans and support the council’s refusal to approve them.

The easiest way is to email
leanne.palmer@pins.gsi.gov.uk
quoting ref. APP/U5930/A/12/2183662/NWF
and including your postal address

or you can write to Leanne Palmer at:

The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/02 Kite Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN

or ‘comment on this case’ via this online form: http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2183662&coid=2179466

You can add your objections to the UCKG’s plans – suggestions are below.
And if you’re in a hurry, why not add your name and address to this template letter:http://mcguffinfilmsociety.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/template-objection-letter-october-2012.pdf

This is the best opportunity to help convince the decision makers to reject UCKG’s appeal.

Any questions? Please email hello@savewalthamstowcinema.org
REMEMBER THE DEADLINE FOR ALL EMAILS, LETTERS AND ONLINE COMMENTS IS 1ST NOVEMBER

Objection suggestions

Access to the main auditorium:
The restriction of access for non UCKG-users to a minimum of 48 days per year
effectively removes this space from the public domain, rendering bookings by
regular event promoters and organisers unviable, as demonstrated at the Rainbow
Theatre which has only screened 2 films in 13 years under UCKG ownership. The
Locum report commissioned by Waltham Forest Council and published in 2010 refers
to the main auditorium as the building’s “feature and reason for
being”.

Proposed cinema provision:

This is ill-proportioned, relegated to the fringes of the
site, secondary to church use and limited to approximately half the floor space
currently allocated for D2 use. The total capacity offered of 690 seats over 6
screens , with 2 screens containing only 55 seats each is wholly insufficient
for a site of this size and prominent town centre
location.

Loss of the borough’s last major dedicated entertainment venue:

These plans remove equipment (screen, flies, lighting etc.) vital to providing professional
entertainment, depriving 225,000 Waltham Forest residents of the only flexible
space capable of staging significant music, theatre and film events in the
borough.

Incompatible shared spaces:

The Locum report states “many potential customers of the cinema
are likely to feel uncomfortable about sharing the lobby area with the church
congregation“ – which is a key part of these plans – and that “the two
activities – worship and entertainment – are not a natural
complement”.

Inappropriate use of a listed building:

Use of the main auditorium for regular worship
is contrary to the building’s special historic interest, character and values,
stated as “intimately connected with its design for use as a cinema” by English
Heritage. Planning guidelines recommend the first option for a Grade II* listed
building such as this is under the purpose for which it was originally
designed.

Lack of viability, attraction and use:

While cinema operators (including Curzon and City
Screen), regeneration consultants (including Locum, Anthony Williams and Capita
Symonds) and events promoters (including Phil McIntyre Entertainments) state the
building has a viable future as a cinema-focussed multiple events venue, use of
the bulk of the building for church activities may greatly reduce its potential
attraction. This includes the conversion of street facing retail units into a
Christian bookshop and training centre and the absence of a licensed bar or
restaurant. The auditorium’s lower circle will be completely unused on a regular
basis.

Conflict with council strategies:

The inability to use or access the main auditorium on a
meaningful basis is unchanged from the previous applications which the council
officer’s report noted “runs contrary to and do complement regeneration
strategies operating within the town centre to stimulate the daytime and evening
economy”.

Lack of
consultation or community engagement:

There has been no attempt made by
UCKG to consult Waltham Forest residents on these plans, despite high levels of
public interest. UCKG have also failed to fully engage or have a dialogue with
residents, the council, cinema campaign groups or the Waltham Forest Cinema
Trust, either now or in the past.

Similarity to previous proposals:

The key aspect to these plans is the UCKG’s intention to use the majority of the
building for church use; a proposal that was unanimously rejected by Waltham
Forest Council in 2011 and had previously been rejected by the council in 2002
and on Appeal in 2003. The allocation of space for the congregation in the main
auditorium is unaltered from the last plans, therefore the numerous reasons
given for refusal previously remain valid in this case.

Economic and social vitality:

No data has been produced to credibly suggest church use has notable economic benefits.
The 2003 Planning Appeal Inspectors report commented “nothing in the commercial
life of that area appeared to benefit from the UCKG Helpcentre”. The use of the
main auditorium for worship was noted in the 2011 council officer’s report as a
“loss of vital asset to the economic, social and cultural heritage and life of
local people”.

Comparable cases:

There are no examples of a hybrid church/cinema operation on this
scale working successfully in the UK. UCKG do not operate their sites in this
way. The only venue they previously proposed doing so – at Catford – ended
without any cinema provision and left Lewisham as the only other London Borough
without a cinema. Examples given by UCKG to support their plans (a refusal to
convert an existing church into a ‘Wellness Centre’ and a refusal to allow a
church group to relocate to an out of town location) are tenuous and invalid in
this case.

Traffic and parking:

As the allocation of space for UCKG members is the same as the
previous application, the issues of stress to local roads and burden on parking
spaces will remain. Similar cases of church operation traffic issues (e.g. The
Potters House Christian Centre, Folkestone Road and Kingsway International
Christian Centre, Hoe Street) are already well documented in the local
area.
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