PLANS to turn a historic former cinema into offices came under attack last night.
The curtain fell for the last time at the Jesmond Picture House, opposite West Jesmond Metro station in Newcastle, in 1993.
New owners have now revealed plans to turn the derelict landmark into environmentally-friendly offices, with room for shops on the ground floor.
But many Jesmond residents attacked the proposals at a public meeting at the Caledonian Hotel in Osbourne Road.
Owner MK Partnership held two public consultations over the weekend to unveil their plans and get feedback from the community, before it seeks planning permission from the council.
Designer Kevin Owens told gathered homeowners the project would act as an “appropriate anchor” for the area – transforming a building which is now derelict and deteriorating and reinvigorating the community.
He used artists’ drawings to show how the building would be transformed into a four-tier structure with an open front, sympathetic to its surroundings and the adjacent Lonsdale Pub, as well as being environmentally friendly. Investor Sunil Mehre told the assembled residents that the company would choose the tenants carefully to ensure there was no disruption to householders.
He said: “We know Jesmond does not need another bar or restaurant. There is no alcohol connected to this building.
“It’s not needed and it’s not wanted. It’s a commercial building that will close after business hours.”
However, many of those who attended yesterday’s meeting raised concerns over parking, noise and the style of the building.
One resident said: “These proposals seems to have lost the flavour of the old building.
“The Picture House gave West Jesmond its identity, especially when coming from the Metro station, but these proposals don’t maintain any of that distinctive character.
“Also it doesn’t give any statement about the age of the building – it just seems to have lost its identity within this new age.”
One woman said: “Parking is already a nightmare in Jesmond and this is just going to make it a million times worse.”
Mr Mehre said he accepted the issue was a “hot potato” in the area: “It’s not a problem that’s going to go away. We are trying to do something about it, but there’s only so much we can do.”
He said the offices would have the best access to a Metro station of any in the city.