On a list of theatres under threat

Photo:The old Astoria Cinema in Gloucester Place

The old Astoria Cinema in Gloucester Place

The old Astoria Cinema in Gloucester Place

By Jackie Fuller, North Laine resident

The Argus newspaper reported on 16th July 2011 that the old Astoria cinema, in Gloucester Place, has been added to the Theatres Trust's 2011 list of theatres that are facing the threat of further deterioration and demolition.

A 1930s Grade II listed building

The cinema is a Grade II Listed building from the 1930s. It closed in 1997 and is currently owned by millionaire businessman Mike Holland, who announced in December 2010 that he wants to demolish the building to build a state-of-the-art 'media hub’. Mr Holland has submitted two planning applications to Brighton & Hove City Council which are still under consideration. He maintains that the building has 'had its day' and needs to come down.

Heavily criticised

This attitude has been heavily criticised by campaigners who say it’s no surprise the building is on the 'at risk' list because it has been deliberately left to deteriorate so that it can’t be repaired.

Campaign by the Astoria Moving Picture Trust

The Astoria Moving Picture Trust has consistently fought to save the venue. Colin Dibley from the group said they hoped to “save and reopen the Astoria as a mixed community and entertainment space”.

What they are saying

A statement from them said: “Leaks around the flat roofing at the front of the building should have been periodically patch-repaired - at minimal cost. Much of the other damp and water penetration has been caused by poorly-maintained guttering and drainage. Basic maintenance would have minimised this deterioration. We have a large archive of original photos which will indicate how the Astoria could look after restoration as many local residents may not know what it looked like originally.”

Watch this space...

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 211, July/August 2011]

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