Commenting on the news of the formation of the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust, Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy said:

“I am delighted that the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust has now gone public with credible and detailed proposals for a not for profit trust to buy and restore the EMD cinema on Hoe Street. I believe these plans could offer both a way of celebrating the heritage of this site and make a fantastic contribution to the future for our town centre.  Planning laws give clear guidance that where there is a “appropriate and viable use of [a] heritage asset” this should be taken into consideration in determining any planning application. I hope Waltham Forest Council will look closely at these proposals and the opportunity they offer to return the EMD to the use that thousands of local residents wish as a thriving cinema and resource for the local community.”

Ahead of the meeting of the Waltham Forest Council Planning Committee on Wednesday 18th May 2011, Stella sent the following letter to all members of the committee.

Re: Application Reference 2009/1048 & 2009/1049/LB The Former Granada Cinema, Victoria Public House, 186, 186A/186B Hoe Street, Walthamstow E17

I write to urge you to uphold the recommendation of the planning officers regarding the future of the former EMD Cinema and to reject the application for planning permission listed above. I have previously written to the local authority in September 2009 to outline my objections to this application- a copy of which is attached for your information.

However, since this date a number of developments have taken place which I believe offer further evidence of the importance of rejecting this application. In particular I note the formation of the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust. In my original correspondence I urged the need to explore whether there might be a viable alternative for this building which would be in keeping with the ambitions for the regeneration of Walthamstow Town Centre. I argued the need for cinema and entertainment as part of this process and the possibility of a viable proposal for the building. I believe that the Cinema Trust proposals offer a clear prospect for this, and I note the lack of evidence detailed in the planning report that the proposals put forward for use of this building could offer a similar benefit.

I note the Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment issued by the Government and applicable to listed buildings such as the former Cinema refers to the importance in considering any “viable use of the heritage asset itself…that will enable its conservation”. As the Trust offers the potential to conserve the building in its original intended use as a cinema I urge the committee to have regard to this guidance and reject the application which would convert the building to a religious establishment – and so not be in keeping with its heritage- accordingly.

I further note that PPG 5 refers to the importance of not giving consideration to any “deliberate neglect or damage to a heritage asset” in considering whether to approve an application. Also enclosed in this correspondence are copies of emails regarding my own discovery following a rave at the building of substantial damage to the interior of the building whilst under the protection of its current owners the UCKG. I believe that this damage – which was substantial- should be seen as evidence of a poor approach by the current owners to the maintenance of the building and so its heritage value. I also note that the applicants state that they have engaged with local MPs in making this application

as well as the local community. As the MP for Walthamstow since May 2010 I can confirm that, despite repeated requests, I have had no meetings or discussions with members of the UCKG.

Indeed, this guidance states local authorities should “take into account the particular nature of the significance of the heritage asset and the value that it holds for this and future generations”. As the MP for the area in which this building is based I can confirm that I have had no correspondence in favour of this application being granted. In contrast I have had substantial correspondence regarding the importance and significance residents place on this building being restored as a cinema and commitment to the regeneration of our local town centre. Given this I believe rejecting this proposal would be in accordance with this guidance.

Whether the former EMD Cinema or the Walthamstow Dog Track, both sites could offer a clear benefit to the local area if returned to their intended use. I hope the committee will take the opportunity to ensure our local heritage is not only protected but utilised for its best effect – please refuse this application and uphold the importance of Walthamstow’s heritage assets to its future progress.

Thank you for taking the time to read this correspondence,

Stella Creasy MP

You can find out more about this trust and their exciting proposal at their new website here:
http://www.walthamforestcinematrust.org.uk/
The planning committee which will consider the application to convert this cinema into a church will be held on Wednesday 18 May 2011.


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