Cine City

Cine City, Withington

Cine City was a former cinema in Withington, Manchester, England. Its address was Cine City, 494 Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester, M20 3BG, and it was located at . It opened in 1912 as The Scala but was later renamed Cine City, and closed in July 2001. It was threatened with demolition in 2005, at which point the building was in a bad state of repair. The demolition was stayed by heritage groups, but the building was demolished in spring 2008.

Cinema

The cinema opened in 1912 as The Scala. It was the third cinema to open in Britain, had 675 seats in three cinema screens and was the third longest running cinema at the time of its closure. The cinema was regularly visited by stars from Hollyoaks, Coronation Street and Brookside and itself appeared twice on Coronation Street. Repairs had to be made to both the cinema and the road outside after they were hit by a small bomb on the night of 1 October 1940 during World War II.

The cinema was saved from closure in 1997 when it was bought by David Babsky, following the sudden death of the previous owner, Geoff Henshaw. However, despite the efforts of its owner and his Chief Projectionist, Kevin Lewis, it was subsequently closed due to competition in July 2001.

Closure and redevelopment

After the cinema closed, it was purchased by Develop UK, and there were several attempts to turn the building into a Wetherspoons pub. However these were rejected by the council twice, once in the initial planning application, and also in a subsequent appeal. The application was denied due to the moratorium on new food and drink licenses in Withington, part of the town's unitary development plan.

In 2002 the building was purchased by Arrows International. They applied for planning permission in December 2002 to demolish part of the cinema, reconstructing it into five ground floor shops, with 21 flats spread over the upper floors. These plans were withdrawn as they were seen as overdeveloping the site.

In 2003 the site was purchased by property developer Mohammad Jamil, who runs the Britannia Property Group. When they purchased the site, Cine City was regarded as "too far gone", so that it was decided that the building should be demolished and a new building constructed in its place. A campaign was started by John Thomson in 2003 to save the building, however the campaign ended in failure six years later, when it was realised that refurbishing the existing building would have cost around £6 million.

As of 2005 a number of original features remained in the building, including the gold brocade seats, wall friezes, cornices and ceiling roses. However, the fabric of the building remained in a poor state of repair, and in January 2008 it was announced once again that the building was to be demolished, with scaffolding being erected at the front in preparation. The building was once considered to be one of the most iconic in Manchester, however was not regarded as being architecturally interesting. In the spring of 2008 the building was demolished.

Replacement building

Plans for a new building on the site have gone through several generations. The first design consisted of a six-storey building (including basement), which had a large shop on the ground floor, as well as an underground car park and four floors of residential apartments, with a top level to hold the building's mechanics. Each floor would have 4,000 square feet, and there would have been a leaning tower to the side of the building. The design was given planning permission in 2005.

A revised design turned the mezzanine floor into an area that could be used as an arts venue, cinema, music auditorium or conference room for 120 to 150 people. New plans cost £60,000. However this new design was deemed to be unworkable.

A second design consisted of another six-storey building with a large ground-floor shop, a 1st storey car park and four floors of flats. This would have been half a metre less in height than the previous design, and did not include the tower. This was rejected by the council, but later approved in April 2008.

References

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