Portobello art deco cinema saved from demolition

Proposals to partly demolish a former art deco cinema in Edinburgh to create new homes have been rejected by councillors.

Portobello art deco cinema saved from demolition

An application lodged by architecture practice Gilberts on behalf of Buckley Builders sought to substantially demolish and redevelop the C-listed former George/County Cinema in Bath Street, Portobello to form 21 homes.

Councillors supported the recommendation for refusal from planning officials who said: “The application does not demonstrate that the proposals to undertake substantial demolition will not damage the special architectural and historic interest of the listed building.”

Council officials also said in the case report: “The assessment concludes that the applicant has not sufficiently demonstrated that the building is incapable of meaningful repair and has not fully demonstrated that the potential for the building to be re-used as a cinema (or similar compatible community use) has been fully explored.”

The applicants said in a statement with the planning application: “This planning and listed building consent application represents a transparent and honest attempt to salvage and improve the best remaining parts of this long time neglected and abused former art deco cinema.

“It is a fact that the building which exists today bears little resemblance to the first design.”

The statement continued: “The proposed change of use of the building will generate much needed income to assist funding of the retention of the principal external elements of the art deco composition all to the benefit of the local townscape and the enjoyment of the general public.

“It is regretful that this part conservation proposal cannot be supported without the replacement of the auditorium. The prevalence of deleterious materials and the limited life expectancy of the envelope of this part of the building render it beyond consideration for retention.

“However, an undertaking would be given by the new owners to consult with the planning officers to conserve worthy and salvageable elements from the original interior in the design of the new public entrance hall which in itself would be visible from the public thoroughfare.

“The new owners hope that their genuine efforts to part conserve and part improve this tired iconic local landmark will be recognised through the grant of a consent.”

An earlier application to create homes at the site was refused in 2018.

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