Campaign to save Portobello cinema boosted by demolition block

Royal George Bingo Hall on Bath Street, Portobello which is threatened with demolition. Picture; Greg Macvean
Royal George Bingo Hall on Bath Street, Portobello which is threatened with demolition. Picture; Greg Macvean
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A CAMPAIGN to save a former Art Deco cinema has been bolstered after plans to bulldoze it were knocked back.

An application to demolish the C-listed former George Cinema in Portobello and turn it into flats was rejected by planning chiefs.

The cinema has recently been used as a Bingo hall. Picture; Greg Macvean

The cinema has recently been used as a Bingo hall. Picture; Greg Macvean

This stay of execution has revived hopes that the door may still be open for community groups or a developer to preserve the landmark.

Rumours of plans to turn the ex-bingo hall into a nightclub or live music venue have also surfaced on the Lost Edinburgh Facebook page in recent days.

The developers were unavailable for comment and their plans for the building’s future are currently unclear.

Paul Lambie, of campaign group Our George, was on a recent public tour organised by the developers and urged them to re-think demolition plans.

“The developers have a rare opportunity to turn a wonderful, much-loved historical landmark into a fantastic local venue that draws tourists and locals alike and becomes the beating heart of Portobello.

“They pointed out all the incredible period features still in place, while confidently telling us there was nothing of value in the building.

“There obviously is. It’s a great example of a working-class cinema and the fact that it would cost a fair bit of money to bring it back to a standard where it can be useful is no reason not to pursue that course. There is potential for the George to be studio and work space, performance space, a café and a bar.

“It could bring jobs to the area. Portobello already has a thriving community workspace in Tribe Porty and there’s a definite appetite for more opportunity to live and work in this area.”

Out Of The Blue is interested in taking over the building and bringing it back into use as an arts centre and community space similar to the Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street in Leith. The charitable arts trust has commissioned a feasibility study to look at the cost involved and to see if there is widespread support for the project.

john.connell@jpress.co.uk