Today I signed a card objecting to proposals to turn the old cinema in Crystal Palace into a church (yes, and bought the t-shirt of the campaigning group www.picture-palace.org)
There are two reasons why I have done this.
1. There is a cinema disused in Crystal Palace which the independent Picturehouse cinema chain would like to buy and run as a cinema.
2. The obstruction to this happening is a religious group.
The religious (Christian) group KICC have already purchased the property and are waiting for their 'change of use' application to go through in order that they might use this as a place of worship. The campaign group are encouraging people to write to Bromley borough council to object to this application.
Reasonably, the campaign group are encouraging people to word their objections in a positive light, to stress the desire for the cinema to be used as a cinema and to talk of the benefits that this will bring to the community (as I say, this is the first reason why I support this lobbying movement). It is suggested that objections should not be negative about the KICC and its intent for the building.
However, it is clear to me that for all that expediency demands moderation in argument and positive campaigning, it is equally true that the community in Crystal Palace does not want the KICC at its centre, especially as they will be misappropriating a building built for a very different purpose in the process.
From what I know of Crystal Palace (I live not in the heart of the community, but on its periphery) it is an intelligent, middle-class, independently-minded and self-sufficient community to be found in a fairly small area at the top of a hill. The businesses often appear organically, born out of local need or creativity, and invariably appeal less to a sense of supplying demand for goods than demand for coming together.
The idea of a religious group from a different part of town, thus twice imposing itself (physically and ideologically) is entirely counter-intuitive. That this group should take over a historic building at the centre of the community is also jarring. Above all that the building - a cinema, a place for art, inspiration - should be taken over by a group propagating ideas seriously flawed by their own suspect moral fibre and one begins to wonder how Bromley council can approve their application for a change of use at all, irrespective of the interest in an alternative use for the building.