Lib Dems respond to latest cinema claims

Cllr John Macklin: Local Liberal Democrat councillors have met for a second time with the UK’s largest independent cinema operators to discuss the historic former EMD building in Walthamstow  – on the same day that the Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration appeared to dash resident’s hopes that the venue would ever be restored as a cinema.

Lyn Goleby, Managing Director of City Screen – the owner of Stratford’s popular Picture House cinema – met at Waltham Forest Town Hall with the borough’s Chief Executive Andrew Kilburn, Liberal Democrat group Leader John Macklin and High St councillor James O’Rourke to discuss previous Council-commissioned reports which made the business case for a 5-screen cinema on the EMD site.

The building is owned by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), but recent comments from the UCKG have seemed to suggest that the Church would consider moving if an offer was made for the building. 

Cllr O’Rourke said that the meeting with City Screen had been organised in order to ensure all parties could “hear another perspective” on claims that the site was not viable as a cinema.

However, just hours later Council portfolio holder Terry Wheeler appeared to strongly rule out any future for the building as a cinema.  (Click here to read the Waltham Forest Guardian’s report on Cllr Wheeler’s comments)

Local Lib Dem leader Cllr John Macklin, who was in attendance at the meeting with City Screen, said:

“I have met with UCKG representatives and very much welcome the efforts they have made to begin engaging with residents and councillors. Of course I recognise the legal restrictions which are associated with planning law and respect the UCKG’s position as owners of the site.

“Yet it is completely wrong for the Council – which is led on this issue by Cllr Wheeler – to be seen to be so completely dismissive of the apparent strength of public opinion on this matter. It is the misinformation and manoeuvring that has taken place over a number of years that has fed such confusion and dismay amongst residents.

“Conflicting reports over the viability of the site as a cinema, false promises of Council action and meetings held behind closed doors have all led to an environment of distrust and anger.

“As I have said before, it is simply not good enough to appear to just tell Walthamstow residents what they want in their area.”

Local Lib Dems in Meeting Over Cinema Viability

Local Liberal Democrat councillors have met with one of the UK’s largest cinema regeneration operators to discuss possibilities for the historic former EMD cinema in Walthamstow.

High St councillor James O’Rourke met with representatives of City Screen at the Town Hall this week after the company expressed an ongoing interest in the building on Hoe Street.  City Screen, which was formed in 1989 to “challenge the multiplex cinema model and provide cinemas in city centre locations”, have been responsible for a series of cinema regenerations and new build facilities across the country, including the Clapham Picturehouse and The Ritzy in Brixton.

At the meeting Lyn Goleby, the Managing Director of City Screen, suggested that with the right funding package the site was still viable as a cinema, highlighting earlier reports paid for by the Council that made the business case for a 5-screen cinema on the EMD site.

Lyn Goleby said:

“Our previous work has shown clearly that the redevelopment of historic cinema buildings, such as the former EMD in Walthamstow, can act as an organic catalyst for wider generation.

“These projects attract other businesses to the area and really stimulate the night time economy.”

Noting recent conjecture over the usage of the building, Lyn Goleby highlighted City Screen’s investment in cinema regeneration projects such as the former EMD, suggesting that such private operator funding, complimented by other investment or grant opportunities, remained the best way to proceed financially in these instances.

After the meeting, Cllr James O’Rourke said:

“I welcome the fact that UCKG representatives met with ward councillors and made some effort to display their plans to local residents.  They will obviously have heard the many concerns expressed regarding the usage of the building.

“I am always keen to hear people’s thoughts about the site and was pleased to meet with City Screen.  It was intriguing to see some of the plans for the building that were drawn up in 2002 at around the same time the EMD cinema originally closed.  These appear to confirm that the site could remain a viable proposition as a cinema.
“The use of the building is an issue people are rightly very passionate about, and I was interested to note recent comments from the UCKG which seemed to suggest that they would consider moving if an offer was made. 

“If this is the case and as City Screen suggested financial investment could see the site renovated as a 5-screen cinema, I would hope any interested
parties would be willing to sit down and talk about it.”

Future of 80 year old building outlined

Cllr James O'Rourke (centre) campaigns with London Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes and Hale End and Highams Park councillor Sheila Smith-PryorLocal LIb Dem councillor James O’Rourkes blog carries news of the High St FOCUS team’s recent briefing on the future of the former EMD site in Hoe St.

The historic building, owned by the UK Church of God, has been earmarked for a redevelopment that will see a theatre, cafe and gallery placed on the site complex.

Cllr O’Rourke has been the first to bring you news of the plans after he discovered that talks over the future of the former cinema were taking place between owners and cabinet members.  The High St LIb Dem team have given a cautious welcome to the plans.

Read more of what Cllr O’Rourke has to say on the issue at his excellent blogsite.

EMD building – update

News emerges from High St councillor James O’Rourke that councillors are to be given the opportunity to view proposals for the regeneration of the former EMD cinema in Hoe Street at a presentation by the owners of the building , the UK Church of God.

We reported earlier this month that Cllr O’Rourke had been gioven access to the building after press reports that squatters were occupying the site emrged over Christmas.  Cllr O’Rourke managed to take some pictures of the inside of the historic building during his visit.

Cllr O’Rourke, who has consistently fought for greater transparency from the Council with regards to the future of the site, has more on the development at his blog.

Good news on EMD site?

James O'Rourke and the High St teamFollowing recent press reports of squatters using the EMD building in Walthamstow, local High St councillor James O’Rourke was given access to the site to take up the case.

But whilst James found no evidence of squatters, he did discover that the owners of the former cinema are apparently in talks to proceed with a new usage of the building, with a planning application expected possibly as early as late January or early February.

Cllr O’Rourke said:

“I will be contacting the relevant Cabinet members to ask urgently for details about these discussions and plans on behalf of High Street residents.”

For more information on the future of the EMD site – and some exclusive pictures from inside the building – head over to Cllr O’Rourkes blog.