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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