Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 18:49 UK

Cinema report against demolition

By Angie Brown
Edinburgh reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Odeon cinema on Clerk Street
The Odeon cinema on Clerk Street has been vacant since 2003

Proposals to demolish the auditorium of an historic cinema in Edinburgh are "not justified", according to a report commissioned by Historic Scotland.

The condition of the Odeon cinema on Clerk Street is "fair" and is "not seen as a barrier to its disposal", property consultants Drivers Jonas said.

The report followed Edinburgh City Council's vote in favour of a planning application to demolish the cinema.

Historic Scotland and Scottish ministers have the final decision.

The Category B-listed art deco building is a purpose-built cinema, which opened in 1930 and continued to show movies until its closure in 2003.

It has remained vacant since.

It is owned by Duddingston House Properties, which has submitted a planning application to Edinburgh City Council to demolish the auditorium to make way for a new art hotel.

The application was granted consent by Edinburgh City council's development management sub-committee on 29 October 2008, subject to a number of conditions including the decision being referred to Scottish Ministers via Historic Scotland.

The report for Historic Scotland is positive news, and reinforces our view that council planners treated their planning committee as a 'rubber-stamp' for their plans for the Odeon
John Need
Campaigner against Odeon demolition

The report, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, is still being considered by Historic Scotland.

It concludes: "The applicant has submitted a substantial amount of information to justify the demolition of the building.

"It is clear the significance of the building is not in doubt and we consider that it is, indeed, of national or international importance, fundamentally on the basis of the uniqueness of the main auditorium.

"The present condition of the building is fair and as a result, this is not seen as a barrier to its disposal or letting.

"We are of the opinion that demolition is not the minimum necessary to retain the building. Indeed, we do not believe the demolition of the auditorium is justified."

'Potential controversy'

John Need, a campaigner who wants to save the Odeon from demolition, said: "The report for Historic Scotland is positive news, and reinforces our view that council planners treated their planning committee as a 'rubber-stamp' for their plans for the Odeon.

"We now await Historic Scotland's decision, expected later this week, either to recommend approval of the planning application, or its referral for decision to a public inquiry.

"Either way, there is much potential controversy still ahead."

He added that the listed building was considered the best of Scotland's last remaining two examples of 'atmospheric' style cinemas.

Green MSP Robin Harper said Historic Scotland must recommend that Scottish ministers 'call-in' the planning application to a full public inquiry.

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: "We released the Drivers Jonas report following a Freedom of Information request for the report.

"We are currently considering our view on the application which does include consideration of the Drivers Jonas report within the wider context of the application. We hope to make a final decision in the near future."



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