14th September, 2009.


Crystal Palace Community Fights Back Against Mega-Church

Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) bought the Gala Bingo hall in Crystal Palace in June, and wants to open a large church there. The Crystal Palace community has other ideas. Over 5,000 residents and 98% of local traders have signed a petition to regain a 1920s purpose-built cinema. On 9th September, KICC put in their planning  application. The battle of David versus Goliath has begun.

When local residents and traders learned that the cinema group City Screen’s offer for the bingo hall had been pipped to the post by the KICC, they were outraged. Within days they had formed the Picture Palace campaign to bring back a cinema to Crystal Palace.

Annabel Sidney, the leader of the campaign, says:

“An independent cinema is vital for the regeneration of our town centre. Crystal Palace is an amazing vibrant place, full of talent and diversity. But we have been kicked in the teeth too many times. This time we are fighting back. I am amazed by how much support we are getting from all sections of the community.”

Campaign t-shirts by local designer Jane Shearman have sold like hot cakes and were sported by VV Brown, The Saturdays and Pixie Lott at the recent V-festival.

Now Spike Jonze, director of “Being John Malkovich”, has added his endorsement:

“Give Crystal Palace a Cinema or we’ll all end up watching movies in the mall. What a bummer.”

What next? The campaign team are delivering 10,000 postcards to local residents this week, asking them to send objections to Bromley council by 1 October. They are planning a number of publicity events – further updates will follow.

Final words for now from Annabel Sidney:

“KICC or a local Cinema? – It’s a no brainer. We have eight local churches. Surely we can have one cinema”.

Notes for Editors:

KICC and the planning process

KICC, a registered charity, and one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in Europe, purchased the Gala Bingo hall at 25 Church Road, Upper Norwood in June 2009, without having first acquired permission for change of use.

Without consulting the local community, KICC has applied to Bromley council for planning permission to change the use of the building from bingo/cinema (D2) to church/community (D1) together with ancillary offices, cafe and bookshop. If granted, this would cause the Crystal Palace Triangle district centre to lose its only major leisure facility and replicate existing activities for a community already well-served by local churches.

The planning application was lodged on 9 September and the consultation period ends on the 1 October. The application reference number is 09/02202/FULL1. Bromley council are aiming to determine the application by 9 December.

City Screen

City Screen’s cinemas include the Brixton Ritzy, Clapham and Greenwich Picturehouses. They remain interested in restoring the building to cinema use. They have a proven track record in regenerating areas and programming films for all members of the community.

Picture Palace campaign team

The team is an association of local residents, traders and cinema supporters, who volunteer their time and expertise to help bring a cinema back to Crystal Palace.

The building

The Rialto cinema was purpose built in1928. It later became the Granada before being supplanted by a bingo hall in 1968.

Crystal Palace Triangle district centre

The Upper Norwood/Crystal Palace Triangle district centre sits on the edges of five London boroughs – Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. Most of the businesses are in Croydon or Lambeth, but one side of Church Road, including the former cinema, is located in Bromley.


Campaign website: www.picture-palace.org

Comments from local residents: www.virtualnorwood.com/forum/index.php

For further information please contact:

Annabel Sidney

e-mail: admin@picture-palace.org