28th Sep, 2020

Planners slammed for allowing 'most significant Art Deco in Redditch to be razed'

REDDITCH planners have been slammed for allowing ‘the most significant Art Deco interior in the town to be razed’.

Key theatre, television and cinema figure John West claims the borough council acted illegally in 2015 when it gave permission for the former Gaumont Palace Theatre in Church Road to be demolished.

And he says his letters to the council, the current chairman of the authority’s planning committee and the borough’s Mayor have all be ignored.

Mr West, who lives in Matchborough and was art director of the ‘Victoria’ drama series for ITV, says the authority’s officers failed to consult with the Theatres Trust before councillors gave permission for the former cine-variety theatre to be bulldozed and replaced with a block of 27 flats – which still haven’t been built yet.

 

Some of the interior of the Gaumont Palace before it was demolished.

And he adds that this was enshrined in The Theatres Trust Act 1976.

“The Theatres Trust confirmed they were not consulted, neither were the Cinema Theatre Association,” said Mr West.

“Therefore this theatre was demolished without any legal consultation with the appropriate statutory body.

“Does the planning department think the Act of Parliament does not apply to them? Or have they simply, not bothered to read it?”

The Gaumont Palace Theatre, designed by William Benslyn, opened in 1931 and boasted, said Mr West, ‘the most significant and elaborate Art Deco interior in the town’.

In later years it it became Area Nightclub before falling empty leading to a planning application being put in for the site.

The footprint of the building is currently being used as a car park.

Mr West, a voting member of BAFTA and an art director member of the British Film Designers Guild who has worked for Disney, says responsibility lies with the council’s own officers.

“Normally, Councillors would be guided by the officers and their failure to take into account this Act of Parliament is just not acceptable.”

Redditch Borough Council did not comment on the issue.

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