Mixed reaction to plan for Whiteladies Road Cinema
16 January 2014
Mixed reaction to plan for former ABC Cinema on Whiteladies Road, Bristol
LAST week's surprise announcement that the former ABC cinema on Whiteladies Road is to be restored by its current owners was broadly welcomed. But for campaigners who have raised thousands of pounds in a bid to salvage the building, the move brings an unusual dilemma.
The U-turn away from converting the cinema into a gym will please cinema lovers but at the same time casts doubt over the relevance of specially commissioned work by campaign group Whiteladies Picture House.
The group, which says it is "delighted" that pressure has led to a U-turn, raised more than £10,000 last year which it has spent on detailed architectural drawings, concept designs, feasibility studies and business plans.
The work could now be redundant as Medinbrand prepares to submit a formal planning application to the council with cinema operator Everyman.
The application will aim to restore the derelict building to its former glory with a main auditorium seating 320 people. The plans also include six one and two-bedroomed flats on the upper floors of the building.
Charlotte Crofts, from the Whiteladies Picture House campaign group, said there may be a chance its own plans could be incorporated.
She asked for people to be patient and said she was hopeful that Medinbrand would listen to their suggestions in time.
She said: "Our own plans are brilliant so far and are currently being finalised. We have spent a lot of time and money coming up with the ideas. In our minds it has been £10,000 well spent.
"Overall, we are pleased with the awareness that has been raised and are delighted to learn the cinema would be returning to its former use after 10 long years."
On its website, the group also released a statement to supporters and donors who gave generously to the campaign through the Kickstarter website.
It said: "Whilst we are pleased that there is an alternative scheme from the developer that incorporates a cinema, in the next couple of weeks we will be releasing our own detailed designs and proposals for the site, which have taken dozens of professionals months to produce.
"So please be a little bit patient with us for a couple more weeks, as we're confident that you will be impressed with what we have too show you. Thank you to all our thousands of supporters for all your time and help to date."
Hattie Appleby, pictured left, who has campaigned for the dilapidated cinema to be reopened under the Keep Cinema Local group, added that she was pleased the building would be returned to its former use.
She said: 'The news that Everyman, one of the country's leading independent cinema operators, is lined up to run a three-screen cinema in the Whiteladies Picture House is very exciting.
"After 13 years of grim persistence it seems we might actually be poised for the restoration of cinema in this wonderful building. It's great news indeed that finally the owner is delivering what we want."
Medinbrand's new plans follow a bitter dispute with campaigners over previous plans to turn the cinema into a gym and flats. The old plans to convert the building into a gym and flats were finally buried at a public inquiry held last January.
The inquiry was held after Medinbrand appealed against the council's decision to reject planning permission for a conversion.
Campaigners have long argued that a cinema would be good for the community. A number of planning approvals for the building have been granted in the last decade, including a restaurant, a shop and a health club. None came to fruition.
OUR BRANCH'S SUMMARY OF THE WHITELADIES PICTURE HOUSE CAMPAIGN CAN BE FOUND HERE: