Bermondsey film buffs have received a boost after plans to remove a “much-loved” local cinema were withdrawn.
Oval Real Estate, which owns Bermondsey Square, had submitted plans to convert the defunct Kino Cinema into a shop, restaurant or sports facility.
But the application has been withdrawn after a council officer warned that their plans were unlikely to be approved due to “insufficient justification for the loss of the cinema”.
Labour ward councillors Sam Dalton, Sunil Chopra and Emily Hickson, who’d campaigned against the plans, said they were “delighted”.
However, they warned there was more work to be done if the space is to return to being a valued community space.
In a joint statement, they said: “Together, with local residents and groups, we’ve been campaigning strongly for the former Kino Bermondsey cinema to be kept as a site of cultural and community value – so the withdrawal of this application to change its use is very welcome.”
When Bermondsey Square got planning permission in 2005 it was on the condition that the unit would remain a “cinema and arts club / exhibition space”.
The cinema opened under the name Shortwave Cinema in 2009 before changing hands and becoming Kino in 2017.
However, Kino closed in January 2023 after negotiations over a rent reduction with Oval Real Estate broke down, opening the door for its conversion.
Oval Real Estate argued a cinema wasn’t financially viable and even council officers admitted it was “unlikely” another cinema provider would occupy the space given it only has enough space for one screen.
But planning officers appeared to have hardened their position since. In an online notice, a council officer wrote: “The application was withdrawn at the request of the officer on 18/01/24 following the advice of the case officer [that] the application was unlikely to be approved on the basis of insufficient justification for the loss of the cinema use.”
The ward councillors said: “While we are delighted our campaign alongside residents has paid off, it is vital we continue our work with local people to bring the best possible community use to this building, and restore the value that the former Kino cinema brought.”
Cllr Dalton has previously suggested it could become a venue similar to Morocco Bound – a nearby bookshop and community hub hosting jazz nights, poetry readings and book clubs.