Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Write to Robbins!

Love Walthamstow? Please spare 2 mins to object to plans to dump a huge out-of-town style supermarket and massive housing development in the heart of E17.

This is how the size of the South Grove plans compare with Warner houses! (click on the picture to see the scale) We're talking a big first floor car park, a massive Morrisons supermarket (the biggest in the country) on top plus other retail, and then 248 flats on top of that. All in the middle of Walthamstow!

Visit Cleveland Park Residents' Association for details of the South Grove plans, how to object and how to email council leader Chris Robbins and tell him the plans urgently need a rethink!

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Friday, 6 September 2013

Mahoosive South Grove planning application is in(visible)

The planning application for the South Grove Morrisons development is in according to the Waltham Forest Guardian. Not that you can see it on the council website - there's just a page with some very basic info.

The WF Guardian article says "Morrisons claim it has listened to the public during two consultations and changed the plans accordingly". But it still looks much the same to us: a huge development (shops + big supermarket + car park + 248 flats on top!). And it still looks to be insular, hoping to attract visitors and sell them stuff but in no way attempting to the rest of Walthamstow High Street's shops and cafes.

If you'd like to see the mahoosive development plans in all their ugliness glory then one of our contacts got this appropriately huge PDF file from the developers. Be warned: it's a 45MB download! Alternatively you can always trot along to the town hall and ask to see the plans.

You can make comments online - even though you can't see the application there yet - or better still email them to case officer Sonia Malcolm. Officially the deadline to comment on the plans looks to be 24th September, which doesn't give us long. In practice, submissions sent later will doubtless be accepted as this is a large and important application.

As for rallying the opposition, follow @SouthGrove_E17 on Twitter. Calling themselves Better South Grove, they're dot on: the South Grove site is ripe for development but these plans just aren't on the right scale for central Walthamstow and they're nowhere near good enough quality. As ever, our council needs to resist them and push the developers to return with something much better. And hey, why not go whole hog and engage the community to draw up better plans together rather than just holding "public exhibitions" and then changing nothing?

So... please object! (see above for how to do so) As ever, object on relevant planning grounds where possible. But do object - even a sentence or two registering your opinion counts for a lot.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

More impending developments

Planning committee next Tuesday (7pm, town hall) will decide on the new plans for the old Ensign factory building on Fulborne Road. If you'd like to speak at committee you need to contact the planning department. For more info on the plans, scroll down to the story below or click here.

Meanwhile, the ugly tower block at Walthamstow Central station - you know, the one they had to rush through so it's built in time for the Olympics, ahem - is taking shape and there are already plans afoot for a series of shorter blocks on what's currently the car park. See the council "consultation portal" for details of this and other sites the council believes to be ripe for development.

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Help needed to save Walthamstow's secret historic building

Would you fight to save this factory on Fulbourne Road?

How about if you knew that underneath that ugly eighties cladding lies this, the old Ensign camera factory?!

Dating from 1908, it's one of the first, if not the first, British camera factories. It's beautiful, and we think it should be preserved as a historic building and sympathetically developed.

Current plans are to demolish it and build 124 homes plus some shops on the site. By Lindhill, the guys that built the ugly Tower Mews development opposite Walthamstow Central tube (the one with the Tesco Metro). So it'll look like this.

Please object to the new plans via the council. But most importantly, if you or a friend has expertise in protecting historic buildings - and doing it quickly - please get in touch! 

The campaign is being co-ordinated by Carol and Andrew at Arts & Crusts, a wonderful little cafe and community hub just round the corner from the site. And a set of plans are currently on display in the cafe. So please get in touch with them ASAP if you can help...

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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Blackhorse Lane plans on show

New plans to develop the area North-West of Blackhorse Road station. Visit the public exhibitions tomorrow and Saturday (1st & 2nd Feb) to see the plans for yourself. See Blackhorse Action Group for details and the Blackhorse Lane Consultation site too.

We haven't seen enough of the plans yet to comment... but please god don't call it Morris Village!

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Friday, 25 January 2013

South Grove update

Predictably, the consultation on the South Grove plans didn't involve much consulting with residents. It was more like a public exhibition of the plans. And one where it was hard to get a straight answer out of them on simple questions like height...

Our friends at Blackhorse Action Group have written a report on the so-called 'consultation' which is well worth reading.

And the short (ha!) answer on height is: two storeys of retail plus seven storeys of housing on top. But the retail ones are double height, so the development will effectively be the same height as an 11-storey building.

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

South Grove consultation this week - tall buildings klaxon!

Here comes another one!!!

New plans for a BIG development at South Grove - the patch of land that's currently a large car park and business centre, between Sainsburys and the little roundabout at the end of Markhouse Road.

Not sure where that is? See this map or look at the picture above (unhelpfully, this is looking at the site from the north, as if you're floating above the market looking south across the overground line).

We haven't seen the plans but looking at the publicity they clearly include a big Morrisons supermarket (a stone's throw from Sainsburys) and car park, up to three other shops and lots of new homes (reportedly 240 flats!).

Don't be fooled by the apparent scale of the buildings taken from an angle that would make anything look diddy. Click on the picture to look more closely and you'll see that, like the new Arcade plans, the gardens pictured are in fact on top of a building, surrounded by taller blocks. (Look at the bottom right of the development, and see how the building underneath dwarfs a juggernaut!) So the overall height of the tallest buildings looks to be MASSIVE. Well over 10 storeys we'd guess.

Find out more at or better still come to the consultation this week and have your say.

Consultations: this Friday 18th Jan (2pm-8pm) and Saturday 19th Jan (10am-4pm) at Alpha Business Centre, South Grove E17 7NX

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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Arcade plans in quite good shocker!

The shocking news about the new Arcade site plans is that they're not bad. No, really. Opinions differ as to whether it's appropriate to build 120 new homes and a nine-screen cinema there at all. But the plans have been thoughtfully designed with good attention to detail and far less negative impact on central Walthamstow than previous plans. St Modwen's 18-storey tower block it ain't!

But some things don't change. The council has predictably published the new plans online without file names, so you have to wade through countless documents to find the interesting stuff. No matter, we've looked through them all and uploaded the key documents for you. The most useful document to read to get a feel for the plans is the Design & Access Statement.

Residents near the site should also see p48 of the Air Quality Assessment because there's due to be a power plant that will produce a flume of pollutants. Hoe Street looks like it will be most affected but it may also concern residents of Browns, Tower Hamlets, Byron, Milton and Cairo Roads plus Cleveland Park Avenue and Crescent. See diagram below.

Do look at the plans and do please email Sonia Malcolm with your opinions by the 30th November deadline (next Friday) quoting "Application no 2012/1355" and including your name and address. The more emails she gets, the better, so please tell her what you think of the plans. Please tell us what you think too!

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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Dog track demo this Saturday

If you'd rather Walthamstow Stadium was back in use as a dog track instead of a housing estate, there's a demo 1pm outside the stadium this Saturday (10th Nov). See

There are many critics of L&Qs housing plans, because they don't stack up well financially, offer very little affordable housing, and because very little of the historic Stadium will be preserved. Critics are also up in arms about the fact that the council rushed through rubber-stamping the plans last week before the secretary of state could look at them, see

That said, there are also critics of the alternative plans which would see it return to use as a dog track, on animal welfare grounds. You can read the Stow's animal welfare charter here and make up your own mind.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

New Arcade site plans

New plans are in for the Arcade site. You can see them at the library or online at (go to the bottom of the page and click on "open the list of documents related to this application"). The deadline for objections is 30 November, so we're currently wading through the plans to figure out the biggest areas of concern for residents. If you want to help with the wading, just shout!

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2 mins to help Save the Cinema!

There's just one week left to send a quick email or letter to help save the cinema (the UCKG is appealing three recent decisions to refuse planning permission to turn it into a church). It's *vital* that as many people do this as possible. So please email the planning inspector quoting APP/U5930/A/12/2183662/NWF or see McGuffins or Save Our Cinema for more info or download a template letter.

You don't have to write an essay, just a paragraph or two saying that you object, that the proposed hybrid church-cinema won't work, how badly they're looking after the building, etc is just fine. And do include your address so they realise how near you are to the cinema. Deadline 1 November, but please do it today!

Need convincing that there's a better alternative? Read the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust vision document and see what we could have in the heart of Walthamstow instead!

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Thursday, 12 July 2012

Big development incoming!

The PRs for the people behind plans to redevelop Walthamstow's South Grove car park and business centre (into a Morrisons supermarket and 250 homes) have taken the novel step of inviting Fight The Height members along to see the plans tomorrow and Saturday. See this PDF for details
Hope you can make it! And please comment on this story to tell us what you think of the plans...

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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Occupy meeting 21st April

Waltham Forest Trades Council has organised a public meeting with people from the Occupy movement on Saturday 21st April at 2pm in Harmony Hall, Truro Rd E17 (just off the market). Further details and a leaflet will be circulated soon, but please put this date in your diaries and start telling anybody who may be interested.
If you've missed the latest news about evictions of protestors on Leyton Marsh it's well worth reading and watching this Guardian report.

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Dog Track meeting 8th May

Saveourstow says: "We're delighted that a date has been set and we hope this will bring our four year campaign to the conclusion that just about everybody wants except L&Q – and that is the restoration of this Borough’s heritage. We are writing to you for your support. We would be grateful if you could post details of the public meeting onto your websites and also email all your supporters. It is crucial we get a large turnout of local support on the 8th May. We would also be grateful for a message of objection against L&Q’s plans from each of the supporters groups, which we can then add to our website."

They're also looking for volunteers who could kindly offer us a few hours of their time to help distribute posters to local business and deliver leaflets to local residents.

If you can give them a hand they would be most grateful - email for further information.

Together let's do everything possible to make sure L&Q don’t get planning permission to build their high storey development!

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Friday, 23 March 2012

Save Leyton Marsh march + an interesting walk around Walthamstow

Sorry for the short notice, but there's a walk tomorrow (Saturday 24th March) to oppose unfettered Olympics development on Leyton Marsh - 75% of Leyton Marsh has been fenced off to construct basketball training facilities for the Olympics! See Indymedia or Facebook for full details of the march and the campaign.

Meanwhile on Wednesday 28th March there's an after-work walk around Walthamstow, run by Capacities. Their theme is the different ways in which the local authority has treated "the two Walthamstows": the village requiring "conservation" and the town centre requiring "regeneration". Should be interesting. Full info here.

WALK UPDATE: Meet at 6.10 pm (for 6.15 pm departure).  The best ticket/ info point at which to meet is the Selbourne Road Bus Station one.  If emerging from tube, turn left at barriers, along subway towards Selbourne Road exit.  Go up steep stairs and then you see it ahead.  If coming on surface level, head for bus station and look out for the info counter.

Itinerary:  We will start by crossing Hoe Street and walking east along St Mary Street and Church Walk to the parish church to look around churchyard.  Latecomers could catch us at the tourist noticeboard by Vinegar Alley at 6.30 pm ... from there we will walk back through the church precinct, past the Ancient House and then follow Orford Road round to Old Town Hall, past the shops and Orford House Social Club, S down Pembroke Road, W along Grosvenor Park Road, then N up Hoe Street to bus station, Town Square, High Street, Arcade Site and finally to Ye Olde Rose and Crown at 53 Hoe Street.  This we should reach at 7.45.   Table reserved at the back...

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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dog track update

You might think the whole area has gone to the dogs, but we think otherwise. In fact, there's a compelling argument for getting the dogs back!

If the council has rejected the UCKG's plans for our listed cinema on the grounds that it's viable to keep it in use for the purpose it was designed for, shouldn't the same logic be applied to Walthamstow's listed greyhound stadium?

If you missed last night's public meeting about the dog track, you can read reports online from Save Our Stow and Waltham Forest Civic Society.

And details of how to see and comment on L&Q's plans to turn it into a giant housing + leisure development are on the council website. You have until the end of February to object - get racing!

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Friday, 20 January 2012

Sex, Drugs and LowHall

Public meeting about massive Olympic campsite
Without public consultation the council has decided to create a massive* Olympic campsite on Walthamstow's Low Hall Sports Ground. That's not good at all. But perhaps the worst part of the plans is the people running it. The company involved [Big Events Camping] have no experience of running campsites and lots of experience of running stuff that's really quite offensive!

Big Events Camping is actually joint enterprise of 'The Sunday Events Co' [whose main venture is The Church a sex and booze fueled night club], and Wicked Campers, an Aussie backpacker franchise who offer free nights to dope smokers.

You can sign a petition here - just be sure to check your inbox for an email confirmation afterwards because it often ends up in spam filters! And a public meeting about the campsite has been organised for Tuesday 31 January at 7pm, at the Town Hall, Forest Road. Council officers and the owner of the company organising the camp site will be leading the meeting. Hope you can make it along!
* 5,000 campers + 5,000 day visitors a day for 3.5 weeks!

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EMD Update: How to Save our Cinema by Objecting

An appeal to overturn the Council's decision to refuse permission for the conversion of the beautiful Grade 2* listed EMD cinema on Hoe Street into a church has been submitted by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG). Government planning inspectors will re-consider Waltham Forest Council's decision to deny UCKG planning permission last year and have the power to overturn the case and allow UCKG to convert our last cinema to religious use.

It is critical that cinema supporters write to the government’s planning inspectorate and register their objections to the UCKG's appeal. The deadline is 21 February. 
  • Object to 'change of use' on the Planning Inspectorate's website (scroll down the page and click 'Comment on this case'), 
  • email the case officer
  • post objections to: Alan Ridley, The Planning Inspectorate, Kite Wing, Temple Quay House, The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN.
Please quote ref. APP/U5930/A/11/2165348 whichever way you appeal and include your name and address. 

Find the reasons to object on the campaign’s website.

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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Elsewhere, sense prevails...

Farewell to the 1960s, 17-storey Glencairn Tower in Motherwell
Here in Walthamstow, our councillors are still rubberstamping new towerblocks. Up in Scotland they're busy blowing them up! We challenge anyone not to enjoy videos like this one from BBC News.

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Friday, 18 November 2011

Walthamstow Central tower block, now with even more hotel rooms!

They've just started work on the grim tower block at Walthamstow Central station car park. But news reaches us that they have already filed a new planning application - to increase the number of hotel rooms and change design elements. See the letter below (click on it to read), which rather marvellously they only sent to residents on one side of Priory Avenue!
Details of how to complain are on the letter too - deadline 22nd November.

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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Arcade Site update

The council has now inked its agreement with Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA) to develop the Arcade site. You can see the latest news on their plans here and also download a recent presentation on their ideas.

ISHA and their architects are making all the right noises about working with residents, a good quality development, family and affordable housing, not building enormous tower blocks, etc. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And we haven't seen residents' concerned taken on board yet. So let's hope the delays (they were hoping to file a planning application last month but they're still in talks with the potential cinema operator) give them plenty of time to improve the plans. Wouldn't it be nice to *not* have a fight on our hands just this once?!!!

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Have your say on locally listed buildings

If you care about which local buildings are added to the council's list (or indeed taken off it) then check out this consultation before the deadline of 25 November. Note that while the dog track and a couple of other important local buildings are being taken off the list, that's apparently because they are now listed by English Heritage which gives them more protection than the council's list.

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Tower block work starts

Work is finally underway for what will quite possibly be the ugliest and most depressing tower block in the world, at Walthamstow Central station. We say finally not because we want it there (it does loom a bit in the picture, no?) but because developer Solum swore back in January that they'd start work soon and that it'd be complete in time for the Olympics. We always said that was tosh designed to blackmail the council into rushing through planning permission. And now we're sure of it!

Anyway, we do hope that the real thing is less miserable looking - maybe the person who did the artist's impression was feeling a bit low that day...

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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Council votes to save EMD!

We stand shoulder to shoulder with the council, for once! On Weds the planning committee voted unanimously to refuse planning permission to the UCKG to convert Walthamstow's last working cinema into a church.
For more info on the campaign to save the EMD (formerly Granada) visit Save Walthamstow Cinema - and visit the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust to find out about the viable plans to bring it back into use as a cinema and arts venue!

Finally, many thanks to Tom Scott for this fab video of the jubilant crowds outside the meeting (those of us stuck inside could hear you all and were in no doubt that you were having more fun than us!)

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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Walthamstow 2.0

At last the new Walthamstow town centre masterplan from Gort Scott (yes, yet another masterplan!) has been unveiled and is available online.

First impressions? Largely good ideas but they feel like pipe dreams - funding hasn't been identified so there's a sense that the council will cherry pick a couple of ideas it likes while ignoring the holistic vision.

Also unconvinced that expensive long-term ideas like removing the Hoe Street gyratory system or removing the bus station to make way for more open space will ever happen. So we definitely wouldn't want to see The Mall expand into a large section of the Town Square Gardens if there's no guarantee that we'll get more green space back in return. (And no, getting a poxy triangle of space by Tesco that used to be bus parking doesn't count!) Active frontages to make better use of existing buildings is a great idea though. And the scale of proposed development is generally reasonable, as long as the quality and content is good enough.

Now, who's going to start the "save the Town Square Gardens" campaign?

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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Save the date, save the cinema!

Join us on Weds 18th May and show the council you care!
It's official: one month till the council decides the fate of our cinema!

Please put the date in your diary NOW. Weds 18th May - meet up 7pm on the Town Hall steps (Forest Road, E17) and then inside for the planning meeting.
Make sure the council planning committee knows you care on the night they decide the future of our beautiful Grade II* listed cinema.

For more info see...

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Monday, 18 April 2011

Consultants "disappointed" with WF Council, join back of the queue!

Consultants Gort Scott were due to unveil the conclusions of their Walthamstow Town Centre masterplanning consultation online by last Friday. Hurrah!

Sadly this morning their blog tells a classic Waltham Forest Council story. We quote: "We had intended to post a summary of the draft masterplan onto this blog  today. However, due to the Borough not having signed-off on the content, they have asked us not to post anything yet. We are disappointed that this is the case and it is unlikely that we will be able to issue material before Tuesday... Apologies on our behalf, we are working to resolve this."

Straight-talking consultants? We like! Look forward to reading their proposals. If they ever get signed off, that is. After all, the council never did publish the conclusions of its "healthy living hub" consultation.

In theory, the results should also be on display at the library from 3pm tomorrow (Tuesday) till 8pm on Thursday 22nd April.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Boo to Boris!

Disappointing news... despite all our emails, Boris has decided not to overturn the council's decision to approve the tower blocks for Walthamstow Central station car park. This despite the plans being too tall for the council's policies and CABE saying they should not be approved! And despite Boris having pledged before he was elected to fight this sort of inapproriate development. So it looks like the development is going ahead. Boo!

Meanwhile, this week is your last chance to comment on important Council policy that will shape Walthamstow for years to come. So please send a quick email by Friday! Details below.

Please take 5 mins to email the council

The council is asking for resident's pinions on what we need in Walthamstow town centre, to create an important planning document called the Walthamstow Town Centre Area Action Plan. This will shape local planning decisions for years to come - so basically please email them if you care about the local area!!!
Things you might want to talk about include: the size and shapes of new buildings; what sort of shops, cafes, takeaways, business we need; what happens to the Arcade site, EMD cinema, town square and market; what sort of new housing we need (for instance, should it be highrise) and where (and what should go with it); how to improve safety, traffic and parking problems; how to encourage visitors by day and by night.
There's a PDF file from the council that you can print and fill out but it's appallingly written. So instead you can just answer the quick questions pasted below and then send them by email to - subject "Walthamstow AAP" or similar. The deadline's this Friday 25 March... but please do it ASAP so you don't forget!!!
  1. I like the following things most about Walthamstow Town Centre:
  2. I think the main problems in Walthamstow are as follows:
  3. I think the following should be considered as “Top 3 Priorities” for the Walthamstow Town Centre Area Action Plan to address:
  4. I think the following sites should be investigated as part of the Walthamstow Town Centre Area Action Plan:

Add at the bottom: "I would like to comment on LDF documents via the internet." and "I would like to be kept informed of progress on, and have the opportunity to comment on the Walthamstow Town Centre AAP. My contact details are:" And make sure you put on your name, address, telephone number and email address.

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Monday, 21 March 2011

Email Boris one sentence today!

Our idiotic council may have approved the plans to fill Walthamstow Central station car park with tower blocks, but Mayor Boris gets the final say. He's making his decision this Wednesday (23 March). So please email his case officer Emma Williamson at with your thoughts before then - today if possible, so it makes it into her written report. Subject: "Planning application 2010/1047, 1-2 Station Approach, Hoe Street E17".

Even a one-sentence email would be great, simply urging the Mayor to reject the application.

If you want to write a couple of sentence, you could also...
  • Remind him that he has pledged to veto tower block plans that don't fit in to the local context (i.e. central Walthamstow's character is largely two- and three-storey, much of it Victorian).
  • And point out that architecture experts CABE recommended that the plans be rejected because the blocks on either side of the station are still too tall to meet the council's own planning policy, and because the architectural quality of the main 14-storey hotel tower block still isn't good enough.
As with all such planning reports, they do take notice of how many emails they receive. The content isn't too important, unless you make new original points. So basically there's no need to write an essay. It would be much more effective to bribe a dozen colleagues from the office to all fire off one sentence emails to Boris too! (And if you 'do' Twitter, Facebook, etc then ask friends to.)

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Monday, 21 February 2011

A personal account of the rave that never was

As one of the people up till the wee hours on Sat night working to protect the EMD, I thought I’d give an account of what happened…

One of our Cleveland Park residents noticed vans going into the Arcade site at 9ish (the rubble car park bit behind the blue hoardings). They seemed to have replaced the gate padlock with their own, they said they were squatters and they put up a fancy legal notice on the gate saying they intended to live there and couldn’t be evicted. Police said they couldn’t do much at that stage.

We contacted the police and also the council and MP. Within half an hour council leader Chris Robbins was here on site marshalling council officers to take action. Shortly after that, the squatters were seen to cut through the big metal fence between the Arcade site and the back of the EMD. It became clear that they intended to occupy the cinema and hold an illegal rave (there was one there in 2003, very soon after the UCKG church took possession of the building).

Stella Creasy, MP arrived soon after and together she and Chris did a great job of getting council officers and police to act fast and smart. Council workers used vans to block the entrances to the Arcade site which meant no more vans could get in. Police manned the front of the cinema and, once they had permission to do so, began stopping more people from entering. The council’s noise team arrived and served a legal notice against loud music.

Ultimately we think the rave was prevented because the squatters failed to get their generator inside so they didn’t have enough power for a sound system. We saw a generator on a van circling the block unable to get in. With no music, it was the rave that never was.

A hell of a lot of people did arrive though – the word having presumably been sent out on Facebook, text, etc – hundreds of people arrived on the last tube and then wondered around aimlessly looking for the party. Some snuck into the building, others wandered around like zombies. The most unfortunate ones got caught in conversation with Stella passionately trying to persuade them all to leave our beautiful Grade II* listed cinema in peace so we can crack on with the business of saving it!

As I understand it, the Arcade site is now secure and just 10-20 squatters remain in the cinema, hopefully leaving soon. I’ll leave it to others (Stella, Bill from McGuffins) who went inside to report on the condition of the cinema. But I believe that – while there was superficial damage like graffiti from this and the 2003 rave – the far more worrying thing was the state of disrepair that the UCKG have let the building get into.

Finally, I can’t praise council leader Cllr Chris Robbins and MP Stella Creasy enough. Our most senior politicians coming along in person definitely spurred the police and council officers into working fast and working smart. It’s clear that, together with great work from police and council officers, we averted a massive rave that would have damaged the cinema more.

Chris has a reputation for being a man of action and Stella has a reputation for being a woman of action. They both earned those reputations on Saturday night by working into the early hours of the morning, in the freezing cold, to protect the cinema. And now we look to them both to work with the community to secure the future of the EMD – to force the UCKG church to repair the cinema and to support plans to restore it as a cinema/arts venue.

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