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Campaigners hail bingo hall victory

PUBLISHED: 17:34 23 June 2010 | UPDATED: 15:53 16 August 2010

CINEMA campaigners are celebrating after a church group announced it will NOT change a former bingo hall into a place of worship. Members of the Picture Palace campaign, who would rather see a cinema in the old Gala bingo hall in Church Road, Crystal

CINEMA campaigners are celebrating after a church group announced it will NOT change a former bingo hall into a place of worship.

Members of the Picture Palace campaign, who would rather see a cinema in the old Gala bingo hall in Church Road, Crystal Palace, are delighted by the decision made by the owners, the evangelical International Christian Centre.

The group had until June 21 to appeal to Bromley council to change the use from 'D2' leisure to 'D1' worship but it announced on Thursday it would not lodge an appeal.

Picture Palace campaign leader Annabel Sidney said: "We are delighted with the news. It is definitely a step in the right direction to realising our hopes of having a cinema.

"There has been a very positive reaction from the Crystal Palace community - we've had a lot of good feedback. We are seeing it as the glass half full rather than empty.

"We hope that the centre will now respect the fact that the building's D2 classification will only allow for permissible uses such as a cinema, concert hall, bingo hall or casino, or dance hall."

More than 7,000 residents signed a petition objecting to the plans for the church which they said was out of line with the character of the area and would not serve local people.

The church group statement read: "KICC's planning consultants had advised that the group stood a very good chance of lodging a successful appeal.

However, the group does not wish to be seen as "fighting" the very community it wishes to serve.

"It was always in Kingsway International Christian Centre plans for the building to have a large element of community use. The church group is now considering a variety of building use options that will most benefit the whole community."

The City Screen independent cinema group was narrowly outbid for the site in June last year. It has said it would still be interested in negotiating a sale with the group but so far there has been no communication.

There will be another public meeting in the coming weeks, Ms Sidney said.

The campaigners are now concentrating on fundraising events.

On July 10 there will be a cake selling event and cocktail party at the Grape and Grain in Anerley Hill. The campaigners are also trying to set up a summer film screening in Crystal Palace Park with City Screen and Bromley council.

kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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