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Plans for revival of Whiteladies Road cinema in Bristol focus on community

A GROUP campaigning to return a dilapidated and derelict cinema to its former glory has publicly revealed its plans for the first time. The ABC Cinema, in Whiteladies Road, has been standing empty for more than a decade, much to the frustration of local residents and businesses.

Several schemes have failed to get off the ground in the past following objections from pressure groups.

The 1920s listed building is owned by property firm Medinbrand, which has signed a deal with a cinema operator and has put together a planning application which would see part of the building converted into flats.

But the Whiteladies Picture House Group is waiting in the wings with a second scheme. And the group has been holding talks with Medinbrand to buy the building and turn it into a theatre and cinema.

The scheme would also include a complete renovation of the building, along with an entirely new smaller cinema space, a new bar and terrace.

The main cinema and auditorium could also be used as a live theatre and performance space.

David Fells, the founding director of the Whiteladies Picture House Group, said: "What we want to do is create something that will be at the centre of the community.

"If you look at the Tobacco Factory in Bedminster, they have created something that is used by the whole community. That is what we are trying to achieve."

The group will have to wait to see what happens to the rival scheme before pressing ahead with its plans, but there is a sense that the owners are keen to see the building back in use as soon as possible.

Architect John Lees has drawn up the plans, which aim to preserve as much as the building and its fittings and decor as possible.

He said: "We are delighted to be working with the Whiteladies Picture House team, who are dedicated to preserving the historic character of the building of the building while providing a sustainable use that will benefit the community.

"We hope that our designs and artwork show that the completed project will be something that both Clifton and the rest of Bristol can be proud of. "

The aim is to open up the building in phases as the work is carried out.

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