New hope for Hull Blitz cinema memorial plan
PLANS to turn a bombed-out cinema into a Blitz memorial have been boosted after the owner ditched proposals for a restaurant and flats.
A public inquiry was due to take place in January to decide the fate of the National Picture Theatre in Beverley Road.
The National Civilian WW2 Memorial Trust has been given planning permission to turn the dilapidated theatre into a memorial site with an education centre.
Owner Reid Park Properties has also been given permission to turn the building into apartments and a restaurant.
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But now the Planning Inspectorate has confirmed the owners have pulled the plug on the scheme.
Alan Canvess, of the trust, is delighted with the news.
He said: "We have to be careful not to read too much into this just yet as we don't know what the owner's plans are.
"But we are very pleased with the news.
"Without planning permission for the site now, it may mean he is willing to come back round the table and talk.
"We should know more this week when we discuss the situation.
"We still have the grant money available, totalling about £170,000, to buy the site if the owner chooses to sell."
It is understood the owner is looking to renovate the Swan Inn next door with a view to selling it on.
But Mr Canvess hopes the owner will talk to the trust once again.
He said: "The owner can come up with another planning application but it will have to go through the same process and we'll take it to a public inquiry again.
"He would have to think long and hard about putting another application in.
"He can sell the pub, which would hamper our plans, but we could still preserve the cinema building at least.
"If he wants to talk then we will contact Hull City Council, which has been doing the negotiations.
"It may not be the value he wants but he can walk away from this and concentrate on other business."
Mr Canvess believes the new memorial and educational centre could be up and running in two to five years.
He said: "If an agreed price was reached we would get the grant money together as quickly as possible.
"The work would be carried out in six phases, with the first being to get the frontage sorted.
"We would then create the garden and memorial before building the education centre.
"After that we would mothball the pub before reopening it and then creating the microbrewery."
The inquiry was due to take place from Tuesday, January 15, to Thursday, January 17, at the Guildhall.
The inquiry would have centred on whether the changes the owner wanted to make could be made to the listed building.
Reid Park Properties has so far refused to sell the building to the trust, which offered £150,000 after having the site valued by an expert.
The owner has been holding out for £250,000.