23.05.2011Colliers International has recently been instrumental in the rejection of two separate planning applications to convert Grade II* listed 1930s art-deco super cinemas in north London to churches. The cinemas in questions are the EMD Cinema in Walthamstow and the Carlton Cinema on Essex Road in Islington. The EMD Cinema, a much loved and prominent building in Walthamstow town centre, was frequented by Alfred Hitchcock as a child, and The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were amongst many famous artists who performed there in its heyday. The Colliers International Locum Destination Consulting team advised LB Waltham Forest that the building could be a viable mixed performance venue and could stimulate successful regeneration for Walthamstow. The Council’s planning officer accepted this advice and, following his recommendations, the Planning Committee rejected an application to turn the building into a church. Local campaigners who have been lobbying for the building to be restored for cinema and events have formed a Trust with the aim of raising funds to purchase the building, again based on recommendations made by Colliers. The similarly historic Carlton Cinema was the subject of a Planning Enquiry which considered an appeal by a church organisation to turn it into a combined church and conference centre. The issue in this case was not about the proposed use of the building, to which there were no objections, but whether additional development of the site that was proposed was appropriate in type and scale. It covered important issues relating to the principle of “enabling development” by which development that is contrary to planning policy can be allowed if it enables the restoration of a listed building. Destination Consulting’s David Geddes gave evidence, on behalf of LB Islington, about the church’s business plan and their evaluation of options. The Inspector ruled fully in favour of the Council and granted them the entire costs. His ruling is likely to be influential in other such cases. David Geddes, Principal Associate, Colliers International said: “We are pleased to have been able to influence these interesting and significant planning decisions in north-east London. Both buildings are well-known and well-loved in their surrounding communities, and are fine examples of art-deco entertainment venues. We hope that both buildings will be redeveloped in a manner that restores them to their former glory and that they will again be the heart of their communities”.