The re-opening of an historic cinema for the community took a major step forward last night after funding was agreed to purchase the building.

Waltham Forest Council’s cabinet approved undisclosed funds to push for the purchase of the grade II-listed former EMD in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, from owner Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG).

The council has already vowed to push ahead with the compulsory purchase (CPO) of the building if a deal cannot be struck.

It is working in partnership with the independent Soho Theatre Company and the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust to turn the site into a mixed entertainment venue and cinema.

The Soho Theatre Company described the vote as a victory for community action.

UCKG have had a number of attempts to turn the venue, which has been empty since 2003, into a place of worship rejected.

There has been a long-running community campaign to re-open the venue, which has been supported by a number of high profile celebrities, including Mick Jagger, who performed there with the Rolling Stones in the 1960s.

Cabinet has instructed officers to start the CPO process but UCKG, which is a very wealthy international evangelical organisation, is expected to strongly challenge the bid.

Fore more on this story, see the Waltham Forest Guardian - out Thursday.