Future of former Islington cinema in doubt

THE future looks uncertain for one of Islington’s most famous buildings after plans to extend and renovate it were thrown out by a planning inspector.

A scheme to build two extra storeys on top of the former Carlton Cinema, in Essex Road, Islington, and a seven-story block of flats at the rear was rejected last week.

Reasons given were a lack of affordable housing in the plans, the effect the roof extension on the building’s design, the impact on nearby Canonbury Conservation Area, and the poor quality of the flats in the rear extension.

Andrew Bosi, emeritus chairman of the Islington Society, said: “We’re pleased that it has been thrown out. The extension would have completely dwarfed the original building and added nothing whatsoever to the area.

“But we are still pessimistic about the long term prognosis of the building.”

Apart from occasional use by squatters, the Grade II* listed old cinema has been empty since 2007 when it’s use as a bingo hall came to an end.

The same year it was purchased by Resurrection Manifestations, who were granted permission to turn it into a church in 2009, but now their latest plans have been turned down.

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Councillor Paul Convery, Islington Council’s cabinet member for planning, regeneration and leisure, said: “We want to see the old Carlton Cinema restored and brought back into use for our community.

“However the current owners put forward a very bad scheme for this site. It would not have secured the future of the building. And it did not contribute at all towards the affordable housing which Islington so badly needs.

“The Appeal Inspector completely supported our case and, unusually, awarded costs against the owners.

“We’re very happy to work with developers to help create a well-rounded plan that will that will bring this wonderful building back into use for Islington.”

Richard Harrison, director of Volume 3 architects who were commissioned to design the renovations, said: “We think we have done the right thing, but the council and the government planning inspector don’t agree.”