Walthamstow cinema up for sale

Trinity Mirror/September 29, 2005
By Greg Fidgeon

The owners of the former EMD Cinema in Walthamstow said they put the site up for sale 'to open up all options'.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God bought the building in Hoe Street more than two years ago with the intention of turning it into a place of worship.

However, the plan was thrown out by a Government inspector, who ruled a cinema must remain on the site.

But since that decision in October 2003, the Grade II listed building has been left in limbo.

A spokesman for UCKG said the group had spent the last 18 months exploring posibilities for the future of the building.

"Even though there are still a few plans on the table, the church's board has taken this step as it wishes to open up all options," he said.

The cinema and the adjoining Victoria pub are being sold via Mayfair-based estate agents, Humberts Leisure, although the company are not quoting a formal guide price.

UCKG bought the building for £2.8million in January 2003, although a independent audit by the London Development Agency last year valued the site at £1.5million. Offers must be made to Humberts by November 18.

The site is currently listed under 'development sites' on the company's website.

The UCKG spokesman explained: "The church recognises that the "cinema" is on English's Heritage's at-risk register.

"Reasons for inclusions include situations whereby buildings are 'functionally redundant, making their future uncertain', as well as condition.

"It does not imply criticism of the owners of the buildings concerned, many of whom are actively seeking ways to secure their future."

Despite UCKG spending more than £80,000 on essential maintenance to prevent further deterioration of the cinema, extensive renovation work is needed.

The interior of the building was damaged and sprayed with graffiti, and original furniture and fittings stolen during an illegal rave in January 2003. Sound equipment including a unique Christie Organ were also damaged.

Bill Hodgson, spokesman for McGuffin Film Society, said the group has already been in contact with several potential buyers.

"This is a major step forward and we will be alerting all the interested parties to the fact that the cinema is finally back on the market.

"The EMD Cinema has historically been the centre of entertainment in this part of London and we sincerely hope a suitable buyer can now be identified to restore the venue to its former glory."

The spokesman for UCKG confirmed that the church is still looking to open a help centre in Walthamstow, which will provide 'spiritual and practical support for the local community in line with its Christian principles'.

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