Glasgow art deco cinema saved from demolition at last minute

Glasgow art deco cinema saved from demolition at last minute

Image: Google StreetView

Demolition work on an art deco former cinema has been halted after Glasgow City Council planning officers issued a last-minute building preservation notice (BPN).

Allied Vehicles, which owns the former Mecca/Vogue cinema at 124 Balmore Road in Possilpark, was granted a demolition for the property warrant just before Christmas.

After Historic Environment Scotland (HES) declined to list the structure on procedural grounds, demolition work on the ceiling then started last week.

However, the council’s decision places an immediate halt to the work and effectively places a six-month pause on the demolition warrant until a final decision is made.

Historic Environment Scotland will then conduct a review and a public consultation on listing the building.

The decision would be subject to appeal to the Scottish Government.

In a statement, Glasgow City Council explained: “Planning officers have instructed the service of the BPN to allow for Historic Environment Scotland to undertake a further assessment following which it is anticipated (repeat, anticipated) that they will list the building. The officers have contacted the owners and informed them of the service of this notice, highlighted that unauthorised alterations or demolition of the structure would now be an offence and requested that they halt demolition works at this time.

“The building will effectively become listed whilst HES proceed to assess it for listing in the context of the BPN. HES have six months to complete their review and this would also include consultation on any proposed designation. We have requested that HES expedite this assessment. Any decision to list the building would then be subject to appeal to ministers.”

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland said: “We published a report on this building on Friday, January 12. The report concluded that the building meets the criteria for listing, but that we would not list the building given the development context.

“Glasgow City Council has asked us to consider the listing of the building afresh in the context of a building preservation notice and we are now progressing that case.

“A building preservation notice is akin to a temporary listing, and we are now required to decide whether it should be formally listed within six months. If we are proposing a listing, we will carry out a consultation before making a decision.”

G&J Demolition began dismantling the cinema on 8 January, removing the roof and much of the rear elevation but the primary facade remains intact.

There are no live planning applications for the site at 124 Balmore Road, nor have any pre-application consultations taken place.

Campaigner Callum Forrester said: “There is no guarantee that when the cinema is demolished the site will even be developed. The owners demolished the former bus depot on Hawthorn Street similarly and never developed the site, which is now just a car park. They have so much spare ground in the area that if they did have a genuine interest in developing, they have many vacant sites to choose from and do not require to demolish local heritage assets to achieve this.”

He added: “The community of Possilpark deserves its heritage assets to be preserved. This cinema is the only original cinema building remaining in the North of Glasgow; if it is lost then the history of cinema integral to Glasgow’s past (once known as Cinema City and which boasted more cinema seats per head than any other city in the world) is lost for the people in North Glasgow forever.”

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