Historic Redfield Cinema in Bristol has community asset status upheld

Campaigners argue Redfield Cinema is a "vital cultural space" for the local area and must be preserved. Credit: Save Redfield Cinema

Campaigners hoping to save an historic cinema in Bristol have managed to get the building's community status upheld.

The Save Redfield Cinema group has been campaigning to save St George's Hall on Church Road since 2021, when plans were unveiled to turn it into flats.

The building contains a largely intact Art Deco cinema that first opened its doors more than 100 years ago in 1912, when it put on black and white films accompanied by a pianist.

Activists have argued the cinema is "a real cultural treasure" and set up a petition to have Bristol City Council list it as an asset of community (ACV) value two years ago.

This was achieved in December 2021, but the decision to award the ACV status was overturned following an appeal by the landowner, Landrose, on a technicality.

The art deco venue has been closed for decades and developers hope to turn the site into housing. Credit: Save Redfield Cinema.

Campaigners then teamed up with Bristol Law Clinic to make St George's Hall ACV nomination watertight, leading the venue to regain its status in April 2023.

Landrose then challenged this status once again, but has now lost - with the building retaining its status.

Resident and Save Redfield Cinema campaign member Brendan Tate Wistreich led the group's defence.

He said: “On behalf of everyone who has supported our campaign, well in the thousands, I thank you for taking our nomination and credentials as a group seriously and recognising the considerable social value that this building has provided since 1912, up until it was recently closed, as well as the potential it could offer our local neighbourhood into the future.

“We value having our rights in the Localism Act upheld, thank you for siding with the decision of [council] officers and supporting the retention of this incredible asset.”

Landrose has laid out plans to redevelop the building into 44 en-suite bedroom units and a commercial gym.

A spokesperson for the company has previously said: "It's about housing. Not to build flats and to sell them on - this is for key workers: for people from the NHS, care workers.

"We urgently need to places to live right now and it's an ideal opportunity."

The next challenge for the campaign group will be when Bristol City Council is expected to make a decision on the landowner's planning application in early 2024.

The application has drawn hundreds of objections, many from the campaign group, on the council's planning portal.

The venue opened in 1912 as the St George’s Hall Electric Palace before being renamed in 1927 and again in 1935. Credit: Save Redfield Cinema.

The history of Redfield Cinema

The cinema opened its doors to the public in 1912, as St George’s Hall Electric Palace.

15 years later, it was rebranded as the St George's Picture House, before becoming the Granada in 1935.

But in 1961, the days of moving picture reels and movie reels came to a close, with the venue turned into a bingo hall.

It functioned as this for around 30 years before finally shutting its doors.

The former foyer area of the site then became a pub in 1998 - but this has also since closed.