Restoration of theatre begins

Pictured from left are David Luff, creative director of Soho Theatre, Simon Miller, cabinet member for economic growth, and Mark Godfrey, executive director of Soho Theatre
Pictured from left are David Luff, creative director of Soho Theatre, Simon Miller, cabinet member for economic growth, and Mark Godfrey, executive director of Soho Theatre

Work on creating major comedy venue for Walthamstow gets underway

Restoration work has begun at Walthamstow’s historic Granada/EMD Cinema, which is being converted into a large comedy venue.

Waltham Forest Council won planning permission in June for its £25million redevelopment project to transform the derelict Grade 2-listed building into a 1,000-seat comedy and entertainment venue – set to be run by Soho Theatre. The main auditorium, which once played host to The Beatles, has been derelict for well over a decade, although the foyer was recently used as a pub.

Full possession of the building – which the local authority earlier bought for £17m – was secured in August, and representatives from the council and Soho Theatre visited the Hoe Street site last month to tour the works in progress.

Developer Willmott Dixon Interiors is leading the restoration, aiming to create “a modern, nationally-recognised entertainment venue that honours its unique heritage”.The new venue will include the main theatre, bar and restaurant, plus community space. It is projected that the local economic benefit could be as much as £50m over ten years once it opens in spring 2022.

Simon Miller, the council’s cabinet member for economic growth and housing development, said: “This is a key milestone in the regeneration of this beautiful building. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Soho Theatre to give this venue the future it deserves, and to bring an outstanding contribution to our borough’s vast cultural offer.

“The development will also provide local jobs, opportunities and a welcoming community space. These, combined with growing visitor numbers, will provide huge economic benefits to our borough for years to come.”