Battle continues over Blitz cinema memorial plans
A GROUP hoping to turn a bombed-out cinema into a Blitz memorial are facing a race against time to realise its dream.
The National Civilian Second World War Memorial Trust has been given planning permission to turn the dilapidated National Picture Theatre in Beverley Road into a memorial site with an education centre.
But owner Reid Park Properties has dug its heels in and is refusing to budge on its £250,000 evaluation. The trust is only offering £150,000.
The owner is now planning to renovate the Swan pub next door with a view to letting it out, possibly as a store.
This Friday Mexican night at The Black Bull, Burton Pidsea, Two...View details
Indulge with our delicious range of specially selected Mexican dishes available from 5pm to 8:30pm this Friday 21st June. Traditional evening menu also available.
Terms: Terms: Friday the 21st June only, from 5pm to 8:30pm. Offer includes two main Mexican courses. Minimum 2 people dining.
Contact: 01964 770402
Valid until: Saturday, June 22 2013
But the pub is a key part of the trust's plans, which secretary Alan Canvess admits cannot remain in limbo for much longer.
He said: "Something needs to happen soon as we are just not getting anywhere.
"We cannot just keep going on like this.
"But both ourselves and the owner agree that an agreement needs to be reached within the next three months.
"We really want to carry on and see this through but there needs to be some real progress now.
"The building still remains on the market for £250,000. Now the owner says he will start work on renovating the Swan at the end of March.
"He said he would prefer an offer before he starts the work."
The trust is hoping for a steer from English Heritage, which has helped provide funding and is keen to see the memorial plans come to fruition.
Mr Canvess said: "There will be a meeting between English Heritage and Hull City Council in the next couple of weeks.
"They have been really helping us so we will see what they want to do."
Even if the trust's plans do not see the light of day, Mr Canvess is proud of what has been achieved to date.
He said: "I think we have done well to get the application through and raise the money we have.
"The owner said he will sit on the property so we'll have to see what English Heritage says before we decide what to do."
Late last year the owner ditched proposals for a restaurant and flats, avoiding a public inquiry, which was due to take place this week.
Reid Park Properties had been given permission to turn the building into apartments and a restaurant.
If the trust does manage to buy the building, the new memorial and educational centre could be up and running in two to five years.
The plans would also involve mothballing the pub before reopening it and then creating a microbrewery.
The theatre took a direct hit during a raid on the nearby docks in March 1941, reducing it to rubble. When the bomb hit, 150 people were at the theatre. No one was seriously hurt.
Everything was destroyed in the raid, apart from its façade.
It is believed to be the last surviving example of a civilian building damaged in the Blitz.