WALTHAMSTOW: Independent EMD cinema report planned

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: The former EMD cinema building has been empty for six years The former EMD cinema building has been empty for six years

AN independent report into the viability of re-opening the former EMD building as a cinema is set to be commissioned by the council.

The purpose of the report is to dispel “myths and “confusion” over the future of the building, according to council leader Chris Robbins.

Campaigners have long called for the council to force current owners, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, to sell the listed building to the authority so it can be re-opened as a cinema.

The Labour group leader insists this is not feasible as a compulsory purchase order would be too expensive and is likely to fail if challenged.

Cllr Robbins said: “There is a huge amount of confusion and myths are being peddled.

“If we are serious about doing something in that part of Walthamstow we need to get rid of all these myths.”

“There are rumours that there are people ready to step in and run it as a cinema and the council is somehow standing in their way, it is not true, nobody has come forward.”

He added that it would cost the council between £6 million and £9 million to renovate the building and it was not the authority’s job to "bail it out".

Cllr Robbins’ cabinet colleague, Liberal Democrat leader John Macklin, said his party has been calling for an independent report into the building’s future for some time.

And the deputy council leader said he is concerned that the report may be biased against re-introducing a cinema in the building.

He added that he has spoken to a representative from the Picturehouse cinema chain, who said the company could operate five screens in the building and invest £2 million.

Bill Hodgson of McGuffin Film Society, which campaigns for the building to be re-opened as a cinema, said: “We welcome this new report so long as the potential cinema buyers are able to fully participate and make their views known"

Council chief executive Andrew Kilburn is expected to hire consultants to compile the report in the coming weeks.

Current owners, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, has submitted an application to turn the building into a place of worship and community centre.

The application will not be considered before the next election.

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Comments (19)

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12:47pm Tue 30 Mar 10

March Hare says...

Although apparently laudable, I worry that this is merely a distraction tactic in the run-up to the elections, which many residents may recall was precisely what happened four years ago. If the report is such a good idea why wasn't it done ages ago? Why announce it as soon as the local elections are called? And local politicians wonder why the electorate is cynical and alienated!
Although apparently laudable, I worry that this is merely a distraction tactic in the run-up to the elections, which many residents may recall was precisely what happened four years ago. If the report is such a good idea why wasn't it done ages ago? Why announce it as soon as the local elections are called? And local politicians wonder why the electorate is cynical and alienated! March Hare

1:14pm Tue 30 Mar 10

Walthamstow noob says...

March Hare wrote:
Although apparently laudable, I worry that this is merely a distraction tactic in the run-up to the elections, which many residents may recall was precisely what happened four years ago. If the report is such a good idea why wasn't it done ages ago? Why announce it as soon as the local elections are called? And local politicians wonder why the electorate is cynical and alienated!
*ding ding ding* We have a winner!
First prize is an honorary lifetime membership to the UCKG!


"Cllr Macklin said he would be looking closely at the report's remit because he does not want it to be biased against a cinema in the building. "

I can see it now, EMD Fried Chicken. *facepalm*

verification word "idea-pain"
yes...indeed.
[quote][p][bold]March Hare[/bold] wrote: Although apparently laudable, I worry that this is merely a distraction tactic in the run-up to the elections, which many residents may recall was precisely what happened four years ago. If the report is such a good idea why wasn't it done ages ago? Why announce it as soon as the local elections are called? And local politicians wonder why the electorate is cynical and alienated![/p][/quote]*ding ding ding* We have a winner! First prize is an honorary lifetime membership to the UCKG! "Cllr Macklin said he would be looking closely at the report's remit because he does not want it to be biased against a cinema in the building. " I can see it now, EMD Fried Chicken. *facepalm* verification word "idea-pain" yes...indeed. Walthamstow noob

1:15pm Tue 30 Mar 10

Helen, Walthamstow says...

Like March Hare, I am cycnical about the reasons for commissioning this report now.

If it does go ahead, I hope consideration will be given to multi-use for the building to include a performance stage for local and visiting productions. WF is woefully lacking in facilities for the performing arts.
Like March Hare, I am cycnical about the reasons for commissioning this report now. If it does go ahead, I hope consideration will be given to multi-use for the building to include a performance stage for local and visiting productions. WF is woefully lacking in facilities for the performing arts. Helen, Walthamstow

1:33pm Tue 30 Mar 10

Walthamstow noob says...

Down the memory hole the comments go.
Down the memory hole the comments go. Walthamstow noob

1:33pm Tue 30 Mar 10

Walthamstow noob says...

And now they're back...
And now they're back... Walthamstow noob

1:42pm Tue 30 Mar 10

Walthamster says...

This supposed "independent report" is a joke. The council leader is already telling us its conclusions!

According to Cllr Robbins: "The purpose of the report is to dispel myths and confusion over the future of the building". He then goes on to repeat the myth that no cinema operator has come forward. And he adds some confusion of his own by saying the council can't afford to reopen the cinema -- which no one is suggesting.

What a pathetic pretence.
This supposed "independent report" is a joke. The council leader is already telling us its conclusions! According to Cllr Robbins: "The purpose of the report is to dispel myths and confusion over the future of the building". He then goes on to repeat the myth that no cinema operator has come forward. And he adds some confusion of his own by saying the council can't afford to reopen the cinema -- which no one is suggesting. What a pathetic pretence. Walthamster

3:10pm Tue 30 Mar 10

March Hare says...

Helen, Walthamstow wrote:
Like March Hare, I am cycnical about the reasons for commissioning this report now. If it does go ahead, I hope consideration will be given to multi-use for the building to include a performance stage for local and visiting productions. WF is woefully lacking in facilities for the performing arts.
UCKG's plans showed just such use, Helen. The question is whether we can trust them - and for me that's a rhetorical one. The proposals are compelling enough but the problem lies in their delivery. As Pastor Hill will be all too well aware, and we should be too, the devil is in the detail!
[quote][p][bold]Helen, Walthamstow[/bold] wrote: Like March Hare, I am cycnical about the reasons for commissioning this report now. If it does go ahead, I hope consideration will be given to multi-use for the building to include a performance stage for local and visiting productions. WF is woefully lacking in facilities for the performing arts.[/p][/quote]UCKG's plans showed just such use, Helen. The question is whether we can trust them - and for me that's a rhetorical one. The proposals are compelling enough but the problem lies in their delivery. As Pastor Hill will be all too well aware, and we should be too, the devil is in the detail! March Hare

3:31pm Tue 30 Mar 10

alexb424 says...

This cinema was a dump when it was open. Not because of the building itself but because of the people attending it. And it was for this reason that it shut its doors. Why do you think re-opening it now, when the area has gone down hill even more, do you think it will be a success?

The only way I can see it working is, if they take the roof of and allow people to see the action i.e Murders happening around the build.
This cinema was a dump when it was open. Not because of the building itself but because of the people attending it. And it was for this reason that it shut its doors. Why do you think re-opening it now, when the area has gone down hill even more, do you think it will be a success? The only way I can see it working is, if they take the roof of and allow people to see the action i.e Murders happening around the build. alexb424

3:44pm Tue 30 Mar 10

March Hare says...

Are your comments about the people attending the EMD based on first-hand experience of having attended it yourself, alexB424? If so, what does that say about you? If not, it's merely anecdotal. Flea-pit it may have become in its latter years but I don't think that's necessarily relevant to today's situation. If a reputable company like City Screen is genuinely interested in the building as a going cinema concern I think they should be given the opportunity to give it a go. Let UCKG have the former Dominion on Buxton Road and good luck to them!
Are your comments about the people attending the EMD based on first-hand experience of having attended it yourself, alexB424? If so, what does that say about you? If not, it's merely anecdotal. Flea-pit it may have become in its latter years but I don't think that's necessarily relevant to today's situation. If a reputable company like City Screen is genuinely interested in the building as a going cinema concern I think they should be given the opportunity to give it a go. Let UCKG have the former Dominion on Buxton Road and good luck to them! March Hare

3:49pm Tue 30 Mar 10

John001 says...

alexb424 wrote:
This cinema was a dump when it was open. Not because of the building itself but because of the people attending it. And it was for this reason that it shut its doors. Why do you think re-opening it now, when the area has gone down hill even more, do you think it will be a success? The only way I can see it working is, if they take the roof of and allow people to see the action i.e Murders happening around the build.
Totally wrong.
The EMD Cinema closed only because UCKG offered the owner double what the building was worth. The cinema was actually in the process of being refurbished before the sale was announced.
[quote][p][bold]alexb424[/bold] wrote: This cinema was a dump when it was open. Not because of the building itself but because of the people attending it. And it was for this reason that it shut its doors. Why do you think re-opening it now, when the area has gone down hill even more, do you think it will be a success? The only way I can see it working is, if they take the roof of and allow people to see the action i.e Murders happening around the build.[/p][/quote]Totally wrong. The EMD Cinema closed only because UCKG offered the owner double what the building was worth. The cinema was actually in the process of being refurbished before the sale was announced. John001

4:22pm Tue 30 Mar 10

Fedupwithitall says...

Unbelievable! The Council Chief Exec is forced to hire in consultants because the current Administration has so little credibility that none of us believe what they are telling us about the viability of the cinema. And we as taxpayers presumably foot the bill for the consultants...this has all the hallmarks of another Robbins/Loakes/Wheel
er fiasco.
Unbelievable! The Council Chief Exec is forced to hire in consultants because the current Administration has so little credibility that none of us believe what they are telling us about the viability of the cinema. And we as taxpayers presumably foot the bill for the consultants...this has all the hallmarks of another Robbins/Loakes/Wheel er fiasco. Fedupwithitall

5:50pm Tue 30 Mar 10

alexb424 says...

John001 I thought the cinema changed ownership many times, even becoming a hollywood cinema and then it closed.

Can you direct me to proof of your claims?
John001 I thought the cinema changed ownership many times, even becoming a hollywood cinema and then it closed. Can you direct me to proof of your claims? alexb424

5:50pm Tue 30 Mar 10

alexb424 says...

John001 I thought the cinema changed ownership many times, even becoming a bollywood cinema and then it closed.

Can you direct me to proof of your claims?
John001 I thought the cinema changed ownership many times, even becoming a bollywood cinema and then it closed. Can you direct me to proof of your claims? alexb424

6:40pm Tue 30 Mar 10

Janet1 says...

alexb424 wrote:
John001 I thought the cinema changed ownership many times, even becoming a bollywood cinema and then it closed.

Can you direct me to proof of your claims?
I can, Alex. What John said is well-known to local cinema-goers. The McGuffins, a group formed to fight for the Granada/EMD, have a history of the cinema and the campaign on their website, www.mcguffin.info

From my own memory of events, the Granada belonged to the Odeon chain till about 10 years ago, when it was sold to a businessman called Mr Shah, who renamed it the EMD. The Odeon put a restrictive clause on the sale, stopping Mr Shah showing films in anything except languages of the Indian subcontinent. I saw some terrific Bollywood films there! But we needed English-language cinema too. Campaigners got the clause overturned, and it then showed English-language films too.

Because it wasn't well-advertised, attendances were often small, except when the cinema organ was being played, which got huge audiences from around the country.

There were lots of plans for making it more of a niche cinema, showing independent films as well as the usual Hollywood fare, and with more use of the organ.

BUT the UCKG came along, with its bottomless funds from gullible punters, and offered double the market price. Mr Shah sold to them and they closed down the cinema in January 2003.

A public inquiry prevented the UCKG from turning the cinema into a place for its huge money-raising meetings. So it has left this lovely old building to rot, in defiance of the rules covering listed buildings.

I remember all those events very well and gave evidence at the public inquiry. I have no financial interest -- I'm just a Walthamstow resident who wants a cinema back.
[quote][p][bold]alexb424[/bold] wrote: John001 I thought the cinema changed ownership many times, even becoming a bollywood cinema and then it closed. Can you direct me to proof of your claims?[/p][/quote]I can, Alex. What John said is well-known to local cinema-goers. The McGuffins, a group formed to fight for the Granada/EMD, have a history of the cinema and the campaign on their website, www.mcguffin.info From my own memory of events, the Granada belonged to the Odeon chain till about 10 years ago, when it was sold to a businessman called Mr Shah, who renamed it the EMD. The Odeon put a restrictive clause on the sale, stopping Mr Shah showing films in anything except languages of the Indian subcontinent. I saw some terrific Bollywood films there! But we needed English-language cinema too. Campaigners got the clause overturned, and it then showed English-language films too. Because it wasn't well-advertised, attendances were often small, except when the cinema organ was being played, which got huge audiences from around the country. There were lots of plans for making it more of a niche cinema, showing independent films as well as the usual Hollywood fare, and with more use of the organ. BUT the UCKG came along, with its bottomless funds from gullible punters, and offered double the market price. Mr Shah sold to them and they closed down the cinema in January 2003. A public inquiry prevented the UCKG from turning the cinema into a place for its huge money-raising meetings. So it has left this lovely old building to rot, in defiance of the rules covering listed buildings. I remember all those events very well and gave evidence at the public inquiry. I have no financial interest -- I'm just a Walthamstow resident who wants a cinema back. Janet1

12:14am Wed 31 Mar 10

alexb424 says...

Janet very interesting thank you for correcting me :)
Janet very interesting thank you for correcting me :) alexb424

12:12pm Wed 31 Mar 10

JonathanB says...

Further to Janet's comment the council had commissioned a report looking into adding a cinema to Selbourne Walk. Mr Shah heard about this and assumed it would happen and destroy his business. So he accepted the massive offer from the UCKG. The report in the end said that the biggest cinema they could add would only be three screens and the *big* cinema chains would not be interested.
Further to Janet's comment the council had commissioned a report looking into adding a cinema to Selbourne Walk. Mr Shah heard about this and assumed it would happen and destroy his business. So he accepted the massive offer from the UCKG. The report in the end said that the biggest cinema they could add would only be three screens and the *big* cinema chains would not be interested. JonathanB

12:14pm Wed 31 Mar 10

Janet1 says...

You're welcome, Alex! I really loved that cinema and I originally thought the council was on our side, as it initially refused change-of-use permission to the UCKG.

But there's something very strange going on. Several cinema operators have expressed interest in the Granada. But a series of leak from inside the council -- pretending that a multiplex is about to be build next door -- always scares them off. Of course that's never going to happen. But it does give the council an excuse for not CPOing the Granada. And of course it's very convenient for the UCKG.
You're welcome, Alex! I really loved that cinema and I originally thought the council was on our side, as it initially refused change-of-use permission to the UCKG. But there's something very strange going on. Several cinema operators have expressed interest in the Granada. But a series of leak from inside the council -- pretending that a multiplex is about to be build next door -- always scares them off. Of course that's never going to happen. But it does give the council an excuse for not CPOing the Granada. And of course it's very convenient for the UCKG. Janet1

2:12pm Wed 31 Mar 10

RichieA70 says...

Odeon sold the cinema to Mohan Sharma (not Mr Shah). A few months before, Odeon had also bought the ABC South Woodford and were concerned that the Walthamstow site would be too much competition, so applied the covenant to stop English language films being shown.

This was a practice they carried out at several other places in the UK, with many other viable cinemas like Walthamstow's being closed to 'protect' others in their ownership nearby.

Hopefully an independent report will confirm what should be apparant to all in the cinema industry - the cinema was viable for the first 73 years it was open, and remains so. If it wasn't, there wouldn't be so many similar cinemas operating successfully and others from the 1930's re-opening.
Odeon sold the cinema to Mohan Sharma (not Mr Shah). A few months before, Odeon had also bought the ABC South Woodford and were concerned that the Walthamstow site would be too much competition, so applied the covenant to stop English language films being shown. This was a practice they carried out at several other places in the UK, with many other viable cinemas like Walthamstow's being closed to 'protect' others in their ownership nearby. Hopefully an independent report will confirm what should be apparant to all in the cinema industry - the cinema was viable for the first 73 years it was open, and remains so. If it wasn't, there wouldn't be so many similar cinemas operating successfully and others from the 1930's re-opening. RichieA70

5:20pm Fri 9 Apr 10

devilsmojo says...

Pfft

We don't need a cinema or dog track

What we need are more mosques, houses and celebrations of left wing pet causes
Pfft We don't need a cinema or dog track What we need are more mosques, houses and celebrations of left wing pet causes devilsmojo

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