Time has flown since our last update back in February and the question everyone keeps asking is: what is happening?
Coming up to a year
On 17th June it will be one year since KICC outbid City Screen for the ownership of 25 Church Road, calling time on the building’s four decades as a Gala Bingo venue, making loyal staff redundant, closing its doors to longstanding customers and depriving the local economy of a much needed leisure and entertainment asset.
Since 25 Church Road has been under KICC ownership it has been left empty and neglected. The local community has been denied access to a valuable resource – the only D2 leisure/entertainment building in Crystal Palace and a building with a significant heritage.
The Picture Palace Campaign started in June 2009 when a local group of like-minded people came together to reclaim the building for all the community. This yielded results on 17th December when the London Borough of Bromley refused KICC’s application to change the planning status of 25 Church Road. Your support was key to our success. Our efforts in 2010 have focused on the need to raise funds in anticipation of an appeal against this decision.
Members of the campaign have been busy. We held a silent auction organised by the Bigger Picture Gallery, a cinema and local history quiz night at the Grape and Grain and a benefit gig by Hipster Ray at the White Hart. We have also received a proportion of the proceeds from the first of Sell It Mama’s 2010 events, which was the Spring Gipsy Hill Mother & Baby Fair in March. These events have kept the campaign in the public eye and delivered much needed and appreciated funds. Thank you.
We are now planning a new range of campaign merchandise – the must-have eco-bags with Jane Shearman design and another run of summer t-shirts too (when summer makes up its mind whether it is going to arrive or not – perhaps a campaign umbrella?!).
On Saturday 10th July from midday to 4 p.m. there is a Have Your Cake and Eat It fund-raising event for the Picture Palace Campaign organised by The Transmitter magazine and Smash Bang Wallop shop in Westow Street featuring a range of wares from independent local cake makers, Gobble Gobble, C is for Cake, Angel Cakes & Blue Mountain Café Cakes. It kicks off at high noon at the Grape & Grain saloon (at the top of Anerley Hill) with live music by The Peryls from 1 to 3 p.m. As a one-off special, for that afternoon only, Rick the landlord will be selling movie-themed cocktails. So come along, have a nibble and knock back a Casablanca, a Pearl & Dean, an Avatar or, for those who dare, a Psycho! Also in July we hope to hold a food, music and arts evening – a night of magic – subject to our finding a suitable venue. If anyone does know of such a space or would like to help then please contact us [email protected].
The campaign team hopes an outdoor screening in Crystal Palace Park can take place later this summer. Discussions are under way with Bromley Council, our local film society Crystal Palace Pictures, and City Screen about the possibility – not an easy task to organise but keep watching this space, it may come off yet.
Will the KICC appeal?
The deadline for any KICC appeal against Bromley’s decision is Monday 21 June 2010. The campaign has successfully maintained its profile in the local newspapers and this week we are featured in both the South London Press and the Streatham Guardian. Another measure of the strength of feeling generated by this issue.
In anticipation of the appeal deadline, both newspapers had been in touch with the KICC’s planning agent, Broadway Malyan, which has stated clearly that the KICC is not going to appeal and that the church has not decided what to do with the building but is looking into the possibility of turning it into an entertainment venue within its existing D2 use class – leisure/entertainment.
It is impossible for us to know the true position. However, when the KICC’s agent was lobbying Bromley planning committee members back in December, he made a couple of very similar written statements (we have highlighted key points in bold):
“It is worth noting the unrestricted nature of the permitted use could mean that the site is used more intensively i.e. additional seating and standing capacity introduced so that the building could hold numbers way in excess of the current 1150 capacity limit without any need for planning permission. It could also be used for other permitted uses including a dance hall, concert venue etc all uses with the potential to cause significant noise/disturbance and parking problems in the local area.
KICC as the legal owners and a responsible organisation will simply use the building for some of its activities in line with the present approved use should planning permission be denied. The consequences of this is that the building will only be occupied for between 3-4 hours on a couple of days during the week compared to the proposed 7-day a week programme (both during the day and into the evening) put forward as part of this application. This reduced programme would also limit the level of investment that could be set aside to refurbish this building.”
According to the Streatham Guardian, the KICC has denied it has made its decision on the building’s fate. A spokesman said it “was still considering its options.” A response in keeping with the approach the church has taken to the local community. The KICC have yet to initiate any constructive dialogue with regard to community relations, consultation and engagement since it purchased the building.
So, what does this mean for the campaign? Is the KICC appealing or not? We won’t know the position until the deadline has passed, but for the time being we have to take this at face value. In the hope that what the KICC’s agent has said is true, we have issued the following statement:
“The Picture Palace Campaign welcomes the KICC’s recognition that a D2 leisure/entertainment use is best for No.25 Church Road. We would appreciate an opportunity to work with the church to ensure any future developments are discussed with the whole community in mind, so that all local people can benefit. Meanwhile, we will continue to campaign for a local cinema and strongly feel that 25 Church Road – as the only heritage leisure/entertainment site in the vicinity – is the best possible location for this and moreover is key to the economic, social, cultural and physical regeneration of Church Road and the entire district centre. We hope the KICC will enter into discussion with a leading cinema provider so this can be delivered.”
In the event the church does submit a last minute appeal, the Crystal Palace Triangle Planning Group (CPTPG), which represents the campaign on planning matters, is in the process of instructing legal counsel – a planning barrister – to assist the campaign. The CPTPG will also seek counsel’s advice should any proposals come forward from the KICC to use the building for a limited number of events, including using it as an occasional concert venue.
Next phase of the campaign
We will hold another public meeting after the 21st June appeal deadline when we will be better placed to give you more information. The Picture Palace Campaign represents the local community and is accountable to it. We want everyone to be involved in deciding how we move forward. In the meantime, we need to continue to raise funds to support the campaign. Over the coming months, we will be marking the anniversary of the building’s closure and the start of the campaign. Also, once we have a clearer picture of the way forward, we shall be back at our usual spot outside Blockbusters/Sainsbury’s on Westow Street.
Please keep checking our website www.picture-palace.org, the Picture Palace Campaign Facebook site and www.virtualnorwood.com for updates and events. And do continue to let us know your thoughts and any ways in which you would like to help us. Many thanks again for your fantastic support.
[i] Streatham Guardian