VIDEO: Inquiry into flats at former Whiteladies Road cinema gets underway
A PUBLIC inquiry into a decision by Bristol City Council to deny permission to convert a former cinema in Clifton into flats has got underway this morning.
The inquiry was put back to today after briefly getting under way at the Mansion House in Clifton Village last month.
The hearing was arranged after the building's owners Medinbrand contested a decision by the council to refuse permission to convert the long-closed Whiteladies Road Picture House into flats and a gym.
Plans for the Grade-II listed former cinema had been recommended for approval but were refused permission by councillors in June.
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Campaigners want the listed building, which closed to the public in 2000, to be re-opened as a cinema or community venue.
On the first day of the four day inquiry, which is being held at the Mansion House in Clifton, Andrew Langdon from the campaign group Keep Cinema Local said the community would be shut out from the iconic building if it was converted into flats.
Edward Nash, who runs the Nash Partnership architect firm, said the cinema was third in line behind the Hippodrome and Colston Hall as an important historic entertainment venue in the city.
Gary Grant, representing Medinbrand, said there were already 77 cinema screens operating in Bristol, meeting the needs of film fans in the city.
Planning inspector Richard McCoy took the decision to adjourn the case until January after hearing that the barrister due to be representing the city council, Peter Towler, had been taken ill.
His replacement, Scott Stemp, told the inquiry he had not been given enough time to read the papers relating to the case.
The rescheduled inquiry is scheduled to run until Friday.
David Fells, director of Whiteladies Picture House Campaign (one of the two campaign groups set up to save the cinema) told ThisisBristol morning before the inquiry began that they have huge backing for their plans for an art centre.
"Through social media and our website we have the support of more than 2,000 people from Bristol and the surrounding area and the recent planning committee meeting we had the support of a lot of the Bristol councillors that it should be used for community purposes," he said.
"Certainly we hope that the proposals for the flats and gym which have already been rejected at the planning committee stage will be overturned but this public inquiry and this will give the final push for us to gain the funding and support we need in order to really move forward. The owners of the building and ourselves do not want to see the building empty but it's just trying to find a way to get things moving forward."
VIDEO: SUPPORTERS OF THE CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE CINEMA