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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About savewalthamstowcinema

The campaign to save Walthamstow's last remaining cinema
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