Firstplan Highly Commended at Planning Awards 2017

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Firstplan is delighted to have been Highly Commended by the judges at the Planning Awards last night for our work on the Everyman Cinema in Muswell Hill in the category ‘Award for best use of arts, culture or sport in placemaking’.

Firstplan acted as planning consultant in respect of the hugely ambitious restoration and refurbishment of the Grade II* listed former Odeon cinema in Muswell Hill to enable independent cinema operator, Everyman, to occupy the building.

The former Odeon Cinema in Muswell Hill opened during the heyday of cinema going in 1936 and is considered one of the finest art-deco style cinemas in the country. Despite a decline in attendance since the 1970’s and the subsequent threat of closure, the building has continued to operate as a cinema throughout the last eighty years making it an established part of Muswell Hill’s social and architectural heritage.

Whilst many historic cinemas in the UK have been converted to bingo halls, pubs or become redundant, this project offered the ideal opportunity to invest in the much needed restoration of this Grade II* listed building and to secure its long term future as a cinema.

Working with Fusion Architects and Heritage Collective, we put together a series of planning and listed building applications to allow alterations to the main auditorium including the reinstatement and refurbishment of the original lower stalls which, despite being one of the most significant spaces within the theatre, had previously been redundant for several decades.

Key to the projects success was ensuring that the newly restored cinema enabled Everyman to operate a viable business, which would justify their significant initial expenditure. Following detailed negotiations with Historic England and Haringey Council it was agreed that two innovatively designed independent ‘cinema pods’ could be inserted into the circle area, creating a total of five screens ranging from 40-250 seats. The ‘pods’ create smaller, more intimate cinemas offering a unique experience, whilst the reintroduction of the lower stalls allows an appreciation of the grandiose auditorium space.

The project has significantly enhanced this much loved heritage asset and restored it to its former art-deco glory allowing the building to continue to sit proudly in the heart of Muswell Hill and, most importantly, giving the building a long term, viable purpose.

The Planning Awards were held at Savoy Place last night and a good time was had by all.