Transformation of the former EMD cinema in Walthamstow into an approximately 1,000 seat theatre initially came with an anticipated £20 million price tag. However, this has now risen to £25 million – partly due to the discovery of asbestos throughout the building.
Waltham Forest Council purchased the Hoe Street property for £2.8 million in 2019, and intends to work with Solo Theatre to restore the building to help to improve the locality’s night-time economy.
The main refurbishment work is expected to start this summer, continuing until late winter 2021 or early 2022. However, while a budget of £19,950,000 was agreed for the project in January last year, the building was subsequently examined as soon as this became possible in the spring, when it was realised there were various other issues that needed to be rectified.
Those problems included – as well as the widespread presence of asbestos – water damage, pigeon infestation, internal leaks and corrosion to concealed steelwork. As a consequence, the local authority has now approved a heightened £25 million total budget.
The one-time EMD cinema – also known during various eras as Granada Cinema, MGM Cinema and ABC Cinema – is a Grade II* listed building.
The site at 186 Hoe Street has been associated with entertainment since 1896, when films were first shown there, and the present building – dating to 1930 – was even frequented by Sir Alfred Hitchcock.
Certainly, everyone here at Trident Asbestos Solutions wishes the best of luck to the team tasked with overhauling the cinema, and we hope it proves to be a vibrant venue for theatre in Walthamstow once restoration work is complete.
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