A FUNDAMENTALIST christian church will try for the second time to gain permission to turn a historic cinema building into a place of worship.
A previous attempt by the The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) to convert the EMD in Hoe Street in 2002 was refused and the iconic building has been empty ever since.
But the now the church is ready to submit a new application following discussions with council planning officers.
UCKG hope to use the main auditorium as a church and create a 250-seat auditorium as a community space for theatre productions, conferences and cinema screenings.
Under the plans, the adjoining Victoria Pub, and Carpet Factory Outlet, which are both on short-term leases, would be closed and converted, along with the building’s lobby, into training rooms and
a youth centre.
The McGuffin Film Society, which has campaigned to keep the Grade II listed building in use as a cinema, has said it welcomes efforts to revive the cinema but are “sceptical” that the venue will be
available to the community.
The society is calling for an independent body answerable directly to the community to “steward” rooms designated for community use.
High Street ward councillors Cllr James O’Rourke and Cllr Johar Khan were at a meeting with UKCG where they presented their proposals.
Cllr O’Rourke said he “cautiously” welcomed the plans. He said: “My view is that we have to take the church on face value and give them the opportunity to refurbish the building.
If it sits there any longer it will deteriorate, and they have the funding.
“My job now is to ensure that the promises of community access are honoured.”
UKCG is expected to submit the planning application to Waltham Forest Council shortly.