In January 2003 the then owner sold the EMD cinema. The building had been an entertainment venue for over 100 years, as a music hall, cinema and renowned music venue, hosting the Beatles, the Stones, Chuck Berry amongst others, see Past. It has deep roots in the local community (see The People’s History) and is a Grade II listed building. The change of use was opposed by many local people including the McGuffin Film Society which had run screenings there.
- January 2003
The new owners, UCKG, submit a planning application that includes change of use to a church. The council’s planning department rejects the application.
- June 2003
The UCKG appeals and a public inquiry is held.
- October 2003
The issue is ultimately decided by then deputy PM, John Prescott, who backs the council’s decision.
- May 2009
The cinema’s supporters compile the EMDdossier setting out the history of the building, the planning arguments, and statements from key supporters.
- August 2009
The UCKG submits another application which they claim meets some of the objections raised to the first. It includes some community space for commercial hire to counter the concern that change of use would effectively remove access for the wider public. The council tries for two years to contact the owners and discuss issues arising from the proposal but cannot get a reply.
- August 2010
Waltham Forest council commissions an independent consultant to report on the potential of the EMD as an entertainment venue. Locum Consulting’s feasibility report sets out a number of viable business options once the restoration work had been completed.
- November 2010
The owners are asked by the council to repair the building after a piece of render falls into the street. They erect scaffold and a tarpaulin which remains to this day. The building is on the English Heritage At Risk register where its condition is described as poor.
- January 2011
A petition is created on the Waltham Forest council website asking the planning department to oppose the application which collects 2,266 signatures.
- February 2011
An attempted rave forces entry into the building. Local people intervene and the rave is short-lived. However the open doors allow photos and video to emerge showing severe water damage from broken radiators, and a general state of neglect.
- March 2011
The Campaign writes to English Heritage asking them to use their legislative powers to help protect and maintain the building.
- March 2011
Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow asks a question in the House about ways to improve the safeguarding of listed buildings.
- March 2011
A list of urgent works is established between English Heritage and the UCKG.
- April 2011
In the Money section of Saturday’s Times Mark Bridges reports that the UCKG, as a registered charity, has received £8m from the taxpayer since 2003 by way of Gift Aid and that most of the Church’s income has been used to build a property portfolio now worth £33m.
- May 2011
The Waltham Forest Cinema Trust is launched with the aim of purchasing, restoring and re-opening the cinema.
- May 2011
The planning committee meets to decide the application. They reject it 7 – 0 explaining that it fails to comply with the Council’s planning polices, including regeneration objectives for the town centre.
- December 2011
The Church mounts another appeal. Thousands of local people and campaign supporters write to the planning inspectorate. Our planning objections summarises our points. An inquiry is scheduled for June 2012.
- May 2012
The Church cancels its appeal and announces plans to submit a third set of plans.
- June 2012
The new plans feature six small screening rooms arranged around the periphery of the main auditorium. Supporters are again urged to make their views known to the planning inspectorate. The campaign’s view of the new plans is summarised here.