Wakefield Council urged to scrap plan to bulldoze old ABC Cinema

The council is being urged to re-think its plan to demolish the building to make way for a car park.
The council is being urged to re-think its plan to demolish the building to make way for a car park.

A National organisation is urging Wakefield Council to re-think its intentions to demolish the old ABC cinema and plan for its future.

The Cinema Theatre Association (CTA), which works to preserve such buildings across the country, has penned a strongly-worded letter criticising the authority for allowing the building to fall into disrepair.

Last month the council revealed plans to flatten the old Kirkgate cinema, which has been shut for more than 20 years, and create a temporary car park on the site.

READ: Plans for car park will finally spell end of Wakefield's ABC Cinema saga

The car park charges would allow the current owner to recoup revenue after failing to sell the property.

But the CTA, which is based in London, has been quick to dismiss the proposal, claiming Wakefield Council still retains the freehold on the site and a covenant is still in place restricting its use to film exhibition which prevents it from being re-used for other purposes.

The group says the council needs to take responsibility for the building, get rid of the covenant and through community engagement devise a use for the building for the public.

READ: Wakefield's ABC Cinema: From an ice rink to a music venue, here are your ideas for the building earmarked for demolition

The letter, which as been sent to the council from CTA case worker Peter Wylde, reads: “It is clear that even though Wakefield Council owns the freehold of the cinema, it has no interest in exploring its potential re-use.

“Wakefield Council is currently negotiating to sell its freehold interest to the applicant, but in that case would lose control over the form of development. We believe the council is unhappy with the car park proposal, which would be a visual blight.”

Lodging their opposition to the council’s plans, the CTA also says the building has significant architectural merit.

Opened in 1935 as The Regal, it became the ABC in 1962. It closed in 1997 from mounting competition from the city’s new Cineworld.

Wakefield Council says it will consider the application at a later date.