Dear Mr Brown,
Application for Change of Use – 25 Church Road SE19 2TE
The Crystal Palace Triangle and adjacent boroughs
I understand a planning application is to be made imminently by Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) to change the use of the former cinema at 25 Church Road SE19, to enable its use as a church. Bromley borough council will be consulting with neighbouring boroughs on this application, and I urge you to respond to this consultation on behalf of residents and traders in Lambeth, to protect the viability and vitality of this centre.
Although the application falls within the borough of Bromley, it is on the very edge of the borough and on one side of a triangular parade of shops, restaurants and other amenities which we call the Crystal Palace Triangle. As you know, that triangular parade is shared with the boroughs of Croydon and Lambeth to form a coherent retail centre, and Southwark and Lewisham also meet at Crystal Palace with many of their residents within easy walking distance of the amenities and using it as their local centre.
Until June this year, these premises were used as a bingo hall. We are very concerned about this potential loss of leisure allocation within the Crystal Palace community, brought to our attention not through any consultation by KICC but through the actions of a local resident action group called the Picture Palace Campaign, which hopes to restore the building to cinema use. There has been little or no pre-application consultation by KICC on the application or its plans to accommodate the increased traffic and parking congestion that could be caused. These are all key concerns, and explain the substantial opposition from local traders, who are concerned about the effect of customer access on one of their main trading days.
The building concerned is of a size, location and lawful use that would make it a key and integral part of the economic regeneration of the area. Retaining the building for leisure use would allow it to act as an anchor to attract further investment in the Crystal Palace Triangle and really bring forward the regeneration of the wider area.
Picturehouse Cinemas have shown interest in converting the property to a functioning cinema. They do much local cultural access work in communities, and I would point out the obvious that a cinema is open every day, and embraces the whole community. There are seven churches locally, and a lack of cinemas for miles around. There is no other building within the Crystal Palace Triangle which would be so appropriate for a cinema and which could be so used with so little modification without a change of planning use.
Croydon Council intend to prepare a master plan for the town centre in partnership with adjacent boroughs, introducing more arts-based uses to boost the centre as a tourist destination. I will be writing to you again to ask the borough councils to collaborate on the regeneration of the wider town centre; the cinema issue might just provide the impetus. I also ask if you can assist Bromley help find the church alternative suitable premises elsewhere.
The Picture Palace Campaign has been collecting support for the retention of this property in leisure use, and has amassed a petition of more than five thousand signatures from a wide area around the centre. I understand that Bromley will be consulting with all the neighbouring boroughs on the application, with a three-week response time limit. I ask you to respond to the consultation, and take into account my concerns and those of your residents and traders when making that response.
cc Cllr Toren Smith
Chair, Planning Applications Committee
Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, SW2 1RW