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Author: Save building that put sin in cinema

PUBLISHED: 15:16 16 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:17 12 August 2010

CINEMA campaigners are urging residents to attend a meeting tonight when the final decision will be made about a controversial planning application. Picture Palace campaign organisers are putting on coaches to Bromley Civic Centre so Crystal Palace res

CINEMA campaigners are urging residents to attend a meeting tonight when the final decision will be made about a controversial planning application.

Picture Palace campaign organisers are putting on coaches to Bromley Civic Centre so Crystal Palace residents can have a ringside seat when Bromley Council either refuses or grants permission for an evangelical church to take over an old bingo hall.

The former Gala bingo hall in Church Road was once a cinema. Thousands of residents want it restored to its former glory but Kingsway International Christian Centre, which bought the building in June, wants to use it as a place of worship.

Campaign chair Annabel Sidney said: "We're hoping to get a good show of people in support of the objection to the planning application. It is not a forgone conclusion. We need lots of people down there to show the council we want to retain the leisure use."

Some 2,500 residents sent campaign postcards objecting to the change of use of the building and a further 1,250 wrote letters.

Ms Sidney added: "I'm not surprised by the number of objections. We have been unable to satiate people with information about the cinema. People are so interested in it. It is all everyone is talking about."

A planning officer has recommended refusal but the development committee will make the final decision.

The latest celebrity to throw her weight behind the campaign is international best-selling author Kathy Lette.

She said: "There is nothing more erotic than sitting in the dark, thigh by thigh, mutually intrigued by an exotic tale. 25 Church Road is an art deco architectural delight. It puts the sin into cinema. Protect the art of focus pocus."

Other A-listers who have backed the cause include pop star Pixie Lott, who went to the Italia Conti stage school in Chislehurst, Hollywood director Spike Jonze, the brains behind Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, and award-winning architect Sir Richard Rogers, who designed the Millennium Dome.

Three coaches will leave at 5.30pm sharp from the number 3 bus stop at Crystal Palace Parade, just before Crystal Palace bus station, this evening. Tickets are £4 return, £3 single and £2 unwaged. They are available from Bookseller Crow, Westow Street, and Bambino, Church Road, and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. To book a place, call 07956 323 164.

See next week's Times for the result of the meeting and reaction to it.

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