Campaigners celebrate as Odeon makes A-list

A-listed status will help secure the future of the Odeon auditorium

A-listed status will help secure the future of the Odeon auditorium

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Campaigners fighting to restore the former Odeon Cinema in Clerk Street to its former Art Deco glory are celebrating after it was upgraded to an A-listed building.

The move by heritage group Historic Scotland, which means the property is now deemed of national importance, has strengthened calls for it to be returned to use as a cinema, according to supporters. But developer Duddingston House Properties (DHP), which bought the Odeon in 2003, said the listing would not necessarily make any difference to its plans.

Tom Pate, of the Campaign Group Save the Odeon, said: “It’s been a six-year wait, but it’s been worth it. Our objective is the same – to get the building back into use as a cinema arts venue within about 18 months. If DHP will not do it, they should dispose of the building to someone who will.

“We’ve been working in the background to make sure this became an A-listed building. DHP have said throughout that there has been no interest in using the building with the auditorium, but that’s rubbish.”

Built in the 1930s, the Odeon is listed on the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland, made up of properties of “architectural merit”.

A previous scheme to turn the building into a hotel – which would have meant knocking down the auditorium while restoring other parts of the building – was rejected by planners after a campaign.

DHP is still considering plans which would see the auditorium preserved, but mothballed, and student flats built to the rear. The new listing would not prevent this going ahead.

Hilary McDowell, the former chairwoman of the now-defunct Southside Community Council, said: “The whole community wants to see the building as a cinema and arts venue – it’s the heart of the Southside community area and it would bring life back in to that part of the city.”

DHP managing director Bruce Hare said: “What we’re trying to do is look at a solution that will involve the auditorium so it is brought back into use.

“It’s a building that holds more than 2000 and finding uses that work with that number of people is difficult.”

dawn.morrison@edinburghnews.com