The role of the CTA Casework Committee is to provide input on the future of traditional cinema buildings in this country, particularly if they are listed. Casework Chairman Richard Gray explains...
Society moves on, and cinemas close. However, judicious use of the planning system can often influence what happens to the buildings, especially those considered to be particularly important as they demonstrate, for example, a unique style or are the work of a renowned architect. In short, listing works!
There are just under 200 listed cinemas in England, of which 26 have a Grade II* listing for their completeness. The 'jewel in the crown' is the magnificent former Granada in Tooting, south London, the UK's only Grade I listed cinema (an accolade putting it on a par with Buckingham Palace!). Our work has demonstrated that cinemas may change their use, but, if listed, they invariably survive. Sometimes they even become cinemas again, as with the excellent restoration and reopening of the Rex, Berkhamsted. Obtaining listing for cinema buildings is an important part of our function and retaining a high standard of selection underpins the reputation of the Association as an expert organisation.
Our victories have included winning a public enquiry over the former Savoy, Northampton where, instead of the interior being ripped out, we managed to preserve the balcony with the building now an evangelical church. Another milestone was the upgrading of the Cameo, Edinburgh, which achieved considerable media interest in the city.
The casework function began some years back with me bashing out letters to local authorities and other bodies, such as English Heritage, but we now have a freelance caseworker, Eva Branscome, which leaves me free to do, voluntarily, the background pro-active work. I have considerable assistance from the Casework Committee, whose members also give their time and energy voluntarily. We are fortunate to have guidance from a trained planner and an architectural historian of national stature. Gordon Barr and Gary Painter formed CTA Scotland in 2006 and have taken forward the casework function north of the border.
Advice is provided on cinema buildings for the main national architectural amenity groups such as the Twentieth Century Society and the Theatres Trust and, as appropriate, the Victorian Society and the Ancient Monuments Society when they stray into the cinema era.
Most importantly, CTA members who become aware of threats to cinema buildings are welcome to contact Eva or myself by e-mail. Our details can be found in the Contact Us page.