Fate of bombed National Picture Theatre in Hull's Beverley Road to be decided soon
A PUBLIC inquiry that will seal the fate of Hull's last Blitz-bombed building has been set for January.
The inquiry represents the last chance for campaigners to save the National Picture Theatre in Beverley Road and turn it into a Blitz memorial.
The National Civilian WW2 Memorial Trust has been given planning permission to turn the dilapidated theatre into a memorial site with an education centre.
But owners Reid Park Properties has also been given permission to turn the building into apartments and a restaurant.
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The owner's plans will have to go to a public inquiry to decide whether changes to the listed building can be made.
Alan Canvess, of the trust, said: "The dates for the inquiry have now been agreed by all four parties involved – the trust, English Heritage, Hull City Council and the owner.
"The Planning Inspectorate is responsible for arranging the inquiry, which will take place from Tuesday, January 15, to Thursday, January 17.
"We have proposed the Guildhall as a venue, which the other parties have agreed would be acceptable, but this has yet to be confirmed by The Planning Inspectorate.
"We are pleased to have the dates organised and now we just want to get on with it.
"We want to try to ensure the owner is not given permission for his plans, which will make the site less valuable and strengthen our position.
"We are disappointed the owner didn't feel the offer we put forward was acceptable.
"But we are very determined and want to see a conclusion to all of this."
But Mr Canvess insists the inquiry cannot focus on the merits of the trust's plans but focus only on the problems with the owner's.
He said: "We can't use our own plans as a reason for the owner's to be turned down.
"The reason for going to a public inquiry is that the owner wants to tear down the stairs and just keep the frontage.
"But we argue that this a nationally important heritage site, which is backed up by English Heritage.
"We hope to have seven to ten witnesses, including Hull Civic Society and a theatre or cinema association.
"Even if we are successful, that doesn't mean a magic wand is waved and it is ours.
"It will be just the first stepping stone in a long, complicated and winding road."
Reid Park Properties has refused to sell the building to the trust, which offered £150,000 after having the site valued by an expert. The owner is holding out for £250,000.