CAMPAIGNERS trying to save a unique blitzed cinema are pinning their hopes on a deal being struck with its owner after councillors refused plans to use part of the site for timber storage.
Councillors meeting at Hull’s Guildhall yesterday were damning about the state of the rear of the National Picture Theatre on Beverley Road saying a substandard shed would be a “massive improvement” on what was there now.
But they voted against the application on safety grounds and the “absurdity” of putting timber storage next to the beer garden of the next door pub.
The move is the latest in the saga of the cinema, which was bombed in 1941.
The remains were given a Grade II listing in 2007, and have been described as of “iconic importance”. Last month the owner failed to sell the ruins at the front of the site an auction in Leeds, after bidding reached £57,000, just £1,000 short of the asking price.
The council had previously declined to buy the whole site for £200,000, £50,000 more than it was bought for.
Alan Canvess, secretary of the National Civilian WW2 Memorial Trust, said they were now looking to the meeting on Tuesday, June 17, when councillors will decide whether to progress with plans for a compulsory purchase order (CPO).
He said: “Our hope is that it won’t be necessary to go to a CPO and the council and the owner will get together and agree a price and we can lease it off the council, because a CPO could take a long time.”
Councillors yesterday expressed frustration at the length of time that it was taking for the trust to progress plans for a memorial and educational resource, but Mr Canvess said they were not in control of the purse strings.
“We are in a chain,” he said. “We can’t move forward until Hull Council has purchased through a CPO or straightforward negotiation. Negotiation would be better for the owner as well as us.”