Kate phoned the planning dept up to see what being in a conservation area actually meant. They told her that there would be no way that they would let us knock it down.
I couldn’t understand this because it’s not a listed building or anything, so I decided to go and see them with my big list of questions.
- It’s not listed, so you can’t tell me what I can do, can you?
- If we bought it, could we wait until it fell down, then build on the land?
- If I just knocked it down anyway, what could you do to me?
- What’s so special about it? It’s a scummy nightclub…
- What if I got loads of people that would support me pulling it down?
etc etc etc
Jeez. Just reading this back, they must have thought I was a right idiot! I did qualify my questions though by saying, “I know some of these questions might be awkward, but I need to ask them just so I know exactly where I stand”
They told me in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t get planning permission to knock it down, that it used to be a cinema built in the 1920s and therefore historically significant, that if I bought it I was legally obliged to maintain it so it didn’t fall down, and that if I just knocked it down, they would take me to court and could be ordered to actually rebuild it.
Oh well, it was a good idea, but I returned to Kate empty handed.
That night we were talking about it, and I just couldn’t understand what was even vaguely nice about it. So I googled it, and that’s when we found the picture of the Old Kensington Picture House.
We thought it looked really nice (I know other people will disagree, but hey…) and we came up with a different approach.
If we restored the front, can we pull down the ‘barn’ bit (the auditorium) at the back? Looking at the building, it’s like there’s two bits stuck together.
When we met with the planning dept for the second time, their reaction was completely different, and very, very positive.
We decided to go for it.