Bid to restore cinema before final credits roll
A LAST-MINUTE bid has been tabled to re-open a historic Clifton cinema as plans for new flats and a gym in the building go before council.
Campaigners and local businesses are backing the bid in the hope that the Whiteladies Picture House can be saved from the proposed development and restored to its former glory.
But a planning committee will decide the fate of the 1920s building at a meeting today where a decision will be made on the current proposals.
The 11th-hour plans to reinstall three screens in the cinema were submitted to the owner of the building, David Lewin, on Thursday of last week.
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The plans, submitted by John Sullivan, of Light Cinemas, include three fully digital high specification screens, with restaurant and club areas upstairs leading onto a terrace.
Residents and traders believe that the plans will bring the building back into public use and give the area an economic boost.
"A cinema is the most wonderful opportunity," said Dan Bekhradnia, owner of The Burger Joint, Cotham Hill. "High streets are struggling and Whiteladies Road is no exception. There is no doubt that a cinema, with all the people it will attract, would be great for business.
"All the retailers and restaurateurs I've spoken to in the area are delighted about the proposal. We need all the help we can get"
Mr Bekhadnia added: "How are flats and a membership gym going to benefit Whiteladies Road?
"They'll have to carve up the listed building, and the public will no longer have access to their community asset. It'll actually harm the building, and won't bring any benefit to the retailers in the area."
The plans for the flats and gym will go before a council planning committee today where councillors will approve or object to the developments.
Hattie Appleby from the Keep Cinema Local campaign said: "It is absolutely critical that the committee on throws out the property developer's application or else we may not only lose the opportunity we have now for a cinema, but any chance of a cinema in the future."
"If permission is given for flats the heart will be ripped out of a historical Bristol landmark. We will lose an invaluable public amenity for all, young or old, to enjoy, and the opportunity to revitalise Whiteladies Road."
The original cinema was built in 1921 with a landmark decorative tower, art nouveau exterior and marble columns and flooring.
The building has been left derelict for over ten years after developers bought it from Odeon Cinemas.
John Sullivan, who is spearheading the new bid from Light Cinemas, said: "I would not be offering a £1 million investment into the building if I didn't strongly believe in its viability as a cinema."