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Restored Whiteladies Road cinema may open in 2015

13 January 2014

Coming soon...Restored Whiteladies Road cinema in Bristol may open in 2015

BRISTOL POST: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Coming-soon-Restored-cinema-open-2015/story-20434322-detail/story.html

Whiteladies Picture House
THE former ABC cinema in Whiteladies Road could be fully restored in 18 months, according to its owners. After facing pressure from campaigners over plans for a gym on the site, Medinbrand now looks set to return the building to its former use.

Plans are to be submitted next month for a three-screen cinema which could open in summer 2015.

Owners of the building are hoping to exchange contracts with an unnamed "successful" cinema operator in the coming weeks.

Plans to convert the building into a gym and flats were finally buried at a public inquiry held last January.

Several campaigns have been organised in a bid to get the cinema reopened.

Other high-profile plans for the derelict buildings have fallen through at various stages.

The former ABC cinema in Clifton closed more than ten years ago, and has fallen into disrepair.

The new plans, to go before Bristol City Council officers in the next few weeks, will restore the derelict building to its former glory with a main auditorium seating 320 people.

The current plans also include six one- and two-bedroomed flats on the upper floors of the building.

It will not affect the Cowshed restaurant, which has recently expanded into the restaurant at the front of the building.

Melanie Brooks, Medinbrand spokesman, said the company had decided to submit new plans after cinema companies began to show an interest.

She said the company was approached by operators showing a desire to reopen the cinema after last year's gym planning application was turned down.

She said: "The 18-month estimate we have put on it really depends on how long it takes to restore the building and how long the operator takes to kit it all out."

The owners are convinced that a recent upsurge in audience would make the cinema viable once again.

The developer was hoping to turn the building into flats and a gym – but the plans were thrown out by a planning inspector.

Elected mayor George Ferguson was one of the most vocal opponents of the scheme and spoke out at the public inquiry.

The decision to reject the much-criticised proposals came after a five-day public inquiry which was held last January.

The inquiry was held after Medinbrand appealed against the council's decision to reject planning permission for a conversion into six flats and a gymnasium operated by Pure Gym.

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.

NOTE FROM THE BRANCH:
The Whiteladies Picture House campaign, for whom this branch has stated its support, has published this statement on January 13th:
http://www.whiteladies-picturehouse.com/2014/01/13/reponse-medinbrands-planning-application/

"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."

OUR SUMMARY OF THE PICTURE HOUSE CAMPAIGN CAN BE FOUND HERE: 
http://www.equity.org.uk/branches/bristol-west-general-branch/present-and-past-campaigns/campaign-whiteladies-picture-house/

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