25th October, 2009


Croydon council’s planning committee object to KICC proposals

CROYDON councillors have slated the transport assessment which KICC sent in support of their application to change the use of the former Gala bingo hall and one-time cinema in Church Road, Upper Norwood into a church.

The council’s planning committee unanimously agreed to object to Bromley council over Kingsway International Christian Centre’s proposals after hearing from ALL SIX councillors whose wards cover the Upper Norwood area.

Cllr Jane Avis (Lab South Norwood) asked the committee to consider the position of Upper Norwood and beyond. “Crystal Palace Triangle is at the bottom corner of many boroughs. The community feels under a great deal of pressure.

“The threat of losing its only leisure facilities has galvanised the response we see here this evening” she added – referring to a packed public gallery, the vast majority of whom had come to hear the Church Road issue debated. “It’s not against anything – it’s for regeneration and saving a community I’d like to add is well worth saving” added Cllr Avis.

Cllr Sue Bennett (Con South Norwood) told the committee she was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the lack of public consultation by the applicant. Bromley said that in such circumstances the applicant should arrange a public meeting in close proximity to the site concerned. “No such consultation took place” she added.

Cllr Luke Clancy (Con South Norwood) called for the reduction in parking facilities, which would result in the application for change of use being allowed, to be included as part of the objections.

The Ritzy cinema in Brixton had 15 per cent of its customers arrive by car. The application said car use at the Church Road site would only be 20 per cent But a report at a public inquiry said two-thirds of the church’s congregation arrived by car at the KICC’s church in Walthamstow.

Cllr Robert Askey (Con Upper Norwood) said Church Road was not particularly broad. “It’s not just parking, it’s the dropping off. It’s a bus route. I’m sure TfL wouldn’t thank us for clogging up a one-way system.”

There was also a wider negative impact on both the economic and cultural regeneration of Crystal Palace, he added.

“We’d be losing the major entertainment centre and biggest piece of the jigsaw for improving the regeneration”. Like Cllr Clancy, he urged the committee to include traffic as grounds for objection.

Cllr George Filbey (Con Upper Norwood) said there would be an enormous impact on the Croydon end of the area. He feared services in the proposed church would not be just once or twice a week. “I think it will be more often than that.”

Parking would also go completely out of control – just as it had done with the nearby Celestial Church of Christ in St Aubyn’s Road. “Residents can’t park their cars anywhere because there are so many cars coming in” he added.

And Cllr Pat Ryan (Lab Upper Norwood) said the proposed change of use to D1 would have a far greater impact than suggested. “This assessment does not reflect the wishes of local businesses and the local community” he said. Cllr Steve O’Connell, GLA member for Croydon and Sutton who is Croydon’s ‘cabinet’ member responsible for regeneration, emphasised: “Clearly we hold no ill will against the church. The area holds no ill will against the church. The difference is this church is a victim of its own success. “The congregation may be up to 1,000.”

Cllr O’Connell revealed he planned to launch a Masterplan for the area if Conservatives held control of Croydon town hall at next May’s elections and work with other boroughs for the regeneration of the Upper Norwood area.

Officers told the committee their responsibilities in considering the proposed change of use were slightly different. “You have to consider the impact on Croydon.” said one officer.

Cllr Paul Scott said they needed to protect the building for D2 use as a cinema. “20 per cent arriving by car is ludicrous. Certainly Bromley should be looking at how that transport assessment has been produced.”

Officers said the committee could request Bromley to review the traffic assessment and ask for further information before determining.

The committee agreed to object on loss of leisure facilities and parking grounds and draw Bromley’s attention to concerns about the traffic assessment and noise impact.

*Earlier in the meeting officers told committee members that different town centres had different attractions. “What you need to achieve is multiple trips so people stay there longer. and spend more money. Leisure is an absolutely vital ingredient in that mix.

“That’s our concern – people go to church then go home whereas for people who go to the cinema it’s a trip out.”

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.

As a UK based charity the KICC should follow the charity commission’s rules and when purchasing a building the onus is on them to consult with the local community

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 ended 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

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