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Curtain lifted on historic art cinema restoration project

PUBLISHED: 17:33 12 May 2010 | UPDATED: 09:49 12 August 2010

CINEMA lovers have upped their drive to restore an old picture house in one of the borough s most artistic areas.

CINEMA lovers have upped their drive to restore an old picture house in one of the borough's most artistic areas.

Members of the Picture Palace campaign are hosting a fundraising event to gather funds for their crusade to turn the old Gala bingo hall in Church Road, Crystal Palace, into a cinema.

The building was bought by Kingsway International Christian Centre in June 2009 and they applied to alter it from a 'D2' leisure category to 'D1'- a place of worship.

But Bromley councillors rejected the plans at a meeting in December after thousands of residents and scores of politicians including the leader of Bromley council, Stephen Carr, contested the proposals.

If the group intends to appeal the decision, it must be lodged by next month but KICC has refused to indicate what it will do.

Event organiser Noreen Meehan (pictured below) said: "We were expecting the church to appeal but it's not really clear what's happening with them now.

"They have hinted that they may do nothing with the church. A community buy-out is something that we would like to see but obviously that takes an awful lot of money."

The evangelical church narrowly outbid Picturehouse Cinemas, an art house group, leading residents to form the Picture Palace campaign which called for a cinema instead of a church at the site.

Representatives from Picturehouse Cinemas have attended meetings about KICC's applications and say they would still be interested in buying the building.

Volunteers are now needed to help out with the fundraising event which will be centred around food.

Ms Meehan, 40, of Highland Road, said she needs artists, performers, musicians, set designers, art directors, prop makers and waiters.

She said: "The funds from the night may be used for an appeal or could be used for a PR campaign. It is so we have a back-up really.

"Crystal Palace is just a great place for the arts and the people who live here are really passionate about the area. That side of Crystal Palace has really struggled since the one-way system was put in place so a cinema would really create a centre again."

The event, which will probably have a Victorian theme to tie in with Crystal Palace's history, is expected to take place in June.

Anyone interested in helping out should contact Noreen Meehan on 07725 057453 or e-mail at noreen@lemonia.org

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