An appeal to convert the EMD cinema into a church has been submitted
by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG). Government planning
inspectors will re-consider Waltham Forest Council’s decision to deny
UCKG planning permission last year and have the power to overturn the
case and allow UCKG to convert our last cinema to religious use. It
is CRITICAL that cinema supporters write to the governments planning
inspectorate and register their OBJECTIONS to the UCKG’s appeal. The
deadline is 21st February.
How to object
- Go to the case details and click “Comment on this case” at the foot of the page
- Email the case officer handling this: Alan.Ridley@pins.gsi.gov.uk
- Post objections to: Alan Ridley, The Planning Inspectorate, Kite Wing, Temple Quay House, The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN Please quote ref. APP/U5930/A/11/2165348 whichever way you appeal and include your name and address.
UCKG supporters will make a big push to get their plans approved so please tell your friends, family and neigbours to object too.
The main points:
- There is no change from the previous Appeal: In 2003, UCKG was refused permission for a change of use at the cinema by the Deputy Prime Minister. That decision can only be overturned if there is a “material” change in circumstances and there is not: the EMD remains the only purpose-built multi-use arts venue in Waltham Forest capable of staging significant cinema, theatre and music events.
- Loss of the borough’s only significant entertainment venue: Despite the limited community facilities proposed in their application, UCKG’s plans will permanently deprive the 225,000 residents of Waltham Forest of their only significant entertainment venue. Waltham Forest already has over 200 places of worship. A number of alternative sites would be suitable for worship but the EMD’s loss as a venue for entertainment and culture would be irreplaceable.
- Economic vitality of the area: A re-opened EMD would boost Walthamstow town centre’s night time economy. UCKG’s plans will not. The Planning Inspector in the 2003 Appeal visited the UCKG’s largest UK centre in Finsbury Park and stated: “Nothing in the commercial life of that area appeared to benefit from the UCKG Helpcentre.”
- Listed status: According to government planning guidelines, the first option for a Grade II* Listed building should always be the purpose for which it was originally designed (i.e. a venue for entertainment and cinema). The historical importance of the building (in a borough which was home to some of the first British film studios and the birthplace of Alfred Hitchcock) makes the venue unique – its loss would therefore deprive Waltham Forest of a major part of its cultural heritage and potential tourism revenue.
- Viability: The building is viable as an entertainment venue. It did not close because of falling attendances – but because UCKG bought it and closed it. By their own admission, UCKG has received numerous offers from potential buyers and serious interest has been registered by cinema operators including the Picturehouse chain, the Genesis Cinema and the Rex Cinema . Waltham Forest Cinema Trust has also offered to buy the venue and operate it on a not-for-profit basis to secure its long-term future.
- Access to the main auditorium: The most renowned feature of the cinema is the main auditorium. Non-UCKG members would have almost no opportunity to enter this area and it would never be available for public hire. The UCKG state they will use it for special events and cite their use of the Finsbury Park Rainbow as an example. In the 13 years UCKG has operated at the Rainbow, only two films have been screened in its main auditorium.
- Transport and parking: With four services a day, seven days a week, the scheme could massively worsen traffic and parking issues in an already busy area. UCKG propose only to provide attendees with information on public transport and encourage use of the Selbourne Walk car park taking places intended for shoppers whose spending is essential to the local economy and who may go elsewhere if they are unable to park.