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The latest on Bristol’s favourite-and most controversial-Art Deco cinema redevelopment

WHITELADIES PICTURE HOUSE LTD is gearing up to unveil new architectural concept art, outlining ambitious plans to conserve and redevelop the former ABC cinema.

Following a kickstarter campaign launched in the summer of last year, Whiteladies Picture House Ltd successfully raised the necessary funds to enable them to commission essential professional services to survey and assess the condition of the existing building.

The charity has been working with Jonathan Lees Architects LLP to develop the plans for the future of the building over the past 18 months and these designs are now ready to be released in the public domain.

The plans are illustrated in 28 A1 presentation drawings, which will be exhibited at Be In Bristol bar on Whiteladies Road on 15-16 March. The proposals include the retention of the main auditorium space as a 564 and cinema screen, a separate 60 seat cinema under the existing balcony and the reinstatement of the historic foyer and ballroom.

The proposed auditorium will have seats arranged on a curved plain looking towards the raised stage. It will be a found space, with the seating and stage area acting as an installation to the existing structure, paying tribute to its wealth of architectural character and historic plasterwork. All features that can be saved from decay and damage will be conserved, with existing features carefully protected.

“We have made some changes from our original aims for various spaces” says David Fells, founding director of Whiteladies Picture House Ltd. “These allow us to preserve more of the historic features, while creating an exciting and financially viable venue.”

“Whiteladies Picture House is a fascinating piece of Bristol’s architectural history, with a rich and turbulent past” says architect Jonathan Lees. “We are delighted to be working with the Whiteladies Picture House team, who are dedicated to preserving the historic character of the existing building while providing a sustainable use that will benefit the community.”

Whiteladies Picture House Ltd has submitted a pre-planning application to Bristol City Council planning Department to ascertain the authority’s response to the proposals that will protect existing features and retain the use of the building as a cinema and arts venue. The company aims to raise sufficient funds to purchase the building and begin the first phase of works in the coming weeks.

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