Liberal Democrat councillor Mahmood Hussain on Wednnesday 18 May told Waltham Forest’s Planning Committee that the council should refuse the planning application submitted by UKCG to turn the EMD Cinema into a religious assembly hall.
Councillor Hussain, who represents High Street ward which includes the EMD Cinema site, said:
“The key questions can be summarised very simply. Does the proposed development respect the building’s heritage and listed building status? Is the impact on the area and particularly on nearby residents acceptable? Does the proposed development contribute satisfactorily to the regeneration of Walthamstow Town Centre? On all three counts I believe the answer is no.
“This view is shared by an enormous number of local residents. Our borough has hundreds of places of worship of all types and sizes. But it does not have a single cinema. We have clear evidence that the building is potentially viable as a cinema, arts and entertainment venue.
“This would bring new life to the area and stimulate the local economy – unlike the proposal before you. The proposed changes to the building would destroy much of what is special about this unique building, which is one of the oldest, largest and best preserved cinema buildings in the country.
“Residents would suffer from the absence of a proper noise management scheme and from parking problems generated by cars descending on the area from miles away.
“For the sake of Walthamstow please listen to local people, weigh up the planning merits of the case and refuse the application.”
Speaking after the decision to refuse the planning application Councillor Hussain said he was delighted that the Planning Committee had listened to the arguments put forward by objectors.
“This is good and important news for Walthamstow Town Centre but it is only one step forward. Following two planning refusals and endless discussion I hope UKCG will now abandon their plan. We must allow those who are able to bring the cinema back into use the chance to realise the cinema’s true potential.”