CAMPAIGNERS today welcomed a decision to grant a reprieve to an historic B-listed cinema in the Capital threatened by the bulldozers.
A controversial planning bid to convert the derelict Odeon Cinema in Clerk Street into a hotel, bar-restaurant and art gallery has been shelved by a Scottish Government reporter.
The independent reporter delighted Save the Odeon campaigners by granting the building a reprieve from partial demolition, declaring that all viable alternatives to its destruction had not yet been "fully explored".
However, he refused to rule out the 231-bed hotel proposal by Duddingston House Properties (DHP), saying it could still represent the "best opportunity" for the cinema to be brought back to use.
Scottish Government policy dictates that no listed building should be demolished unless it can be clearly demonstrated that every effort had been made to retain it.
• Poll: Do you welcome the decision to reprieve the Odeon picture house?
Supported by city councillors, the DHP bid intended to retain the outer facade of the 1930's Art Deco building but gut the interior – including its unique cinema auditorium – to fit out the hotel infrastructure.
Save the Odeon Campaign spokesman, Tom Pate, of the Theatres Trust, said he was "confident" the iconic auditorium could now be preserved for future generations and that Historic Scotland would upgrade its listed building status.
"It's very good news indeed and hopefully the next stage will be an upgrade from B to A listing which will give it extra protection," he said.
"I am hopeful there will upgrade it to A , which means the building is of national and international significance.
"In practice the building is now safe because there are people interested in saving the building. The planning application was to demolish the auditorium. Our objections was always to make she the auditorium was safe."
More than 5,500 people signed a petition calling on Historic Scotland to recommend a public inquiry into the hotel planning bid.
Lothians MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "I want to congratulate the local people and cinema-goers who have fought a valiant campaign to preserve this striking Art Deco cinema."
A spokesman for Duddingston House Properties said:
"Clearly we are disappointed but we have not had any offers for the building.
"We will sit down with Historic Scotland and the council to see where we can go from here."
What should become of the cinema now?
Lee Cameron, 32, civil servant, Ferry Road: "I would like to see it restored to its original glory."
Caitlin Smith, 29, radio producer, Newington: "It would make the perfect boutique hotel."
Alexander Alexander, 82, retired postman, Calder Gardens: "They could keep it as a seated auditorium. There is often a shortage of venues but no shortage of hotels."