Listing status secures long-term future of Glasgow art deco cinema

Listing status secures long-term future of Glasgow art deco cinema

Image: Google StreetView

An art deco former cinema that was saved from demolition after a last-minute intervention by Glasgow City Council has now been added to the list of Scotland’s protected buildings.

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 last year.

Demolition work on the ceiling then started before planning officers issued a last-minute building preservation notice (BPN).

At the time, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) declined to list the structure on procedural grounds, but legal protection for the building is now secured after the heritage body granted it listed status as a building of special historic and architectural interest.

The decision means Allied Vehicles cannot go now ahead with its demolition plans and HES will have a say in any development plans for the site.

The Mecca Cinema, opened in 1933, is a rare survival of a 1930s cinema which retains its architecturally distinctive character to the main elevation. It is a notable example of the work of architect James McKissack, a foremost Scottish cinema designer of the earlier 20th century.

The cinema is an architectural landmark in the streetscape and its wider setting in Possilpark. It is of social historical significance for the association with town planning, leisure, and industry in the early 20th century.

During its consultation process, HES said the overwhelming majority of people who responded expressed strong support for the designation. No one raised issues that brought into question the cultural significance of the site for designation. Many of the comments noted that the building was a significant architectural landmark in the local area. Some comments noted the perceived impact listing may have on the future use of the building.

Listing status secures long-term future of Glasgow art deco cinema

A concept image for the Vogue Cinema (Alan Dunlop)

Campaigners who had been fighting to save the cinema welcomed the decision as good news for the community.

The architect Alan Dunlop, a vocal critic of the demolition plans, said he was delighted and that listed status was the first step to restoring the building.Mr Dunlop has produced plans showing how the building could be developed.

He said: “The area has been devastated in the last 20 years, that’s the truth of it. So saving a building of such character and such note is great. It was the last significant building of character and distinction left in that area of north Glasgow.”

Mr Dunlop said the Category C listing meant that there was an opportunity to work with the building and keep the best of it.

“There’s a process you have to go through before any change and that would involve HES,” he said. “As an architect with 40 years’ experience of building major projects in Glasgow, including working with listed buildings and on conservation projects, I know the Vogue Cinema can be and should be saved. Achieving listed status is the first step on the road to its restoration and bringing it back to life.”

The details of the listing by HES state that the front and side sections of the building will now be protected but the interior and roof structure are not of special interest. The interior has been stripped to its bare walls and there are no surviving fixtures and fittings.

Allied Vehicles can appeal the decision to the Scottish Government within six months.

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