Belfast Telegraph

Drive to save cinema facing the axe under £65m office block plan

By Cate McCurry

Thousands of people have backed a petition calling for Belfast's Movie House cinema to be saved from demolition.

It emerged this week that plans were under way for a £65 million 12-storey office scheme for 3,000 staff on the site of the picture house.

A campaign launched yesterday to save the popular cinema complex has already gained the support of more than 2,000 people.

The petition states that losing the cinema would be "another nail in the coffin" for the arts sector in Belfast.

Plans for One Bankmore Square go out to public consultation next month.

The developers say it will be the largest office building in Northern Ireland.

The proposal would see the transformation of the area, with plans for an outdoor cinema and public art exhibitions.

The building will be mostly made up of grade A office space, with some retail on the lower floors.

Following news of the redevelopment plan, which was revealed by the Belfast Telegraph, a spokesman for the Movie House said on its Facebook page that the cinema was continuing to operate as normal.

He added that it was in talks with the developers to ensure the movie-going public were catered for in the future.

"There have been lots of comments on Facebook about the redevelopment at Dublin Road," the post stated.

"But it's business as usual at Movie House Dublin Road while plans are being developed for a multi-million pound office development.

"This is a long-term project and we are in discussions with the developer about incorporating an eight-screen cinema within the complex.

"We're open for business so come on down and see some of the great movies that are out at the moment."

More than 2,300 signatures had been collected in 24 hours.

The petition calls for its supporters to "reject any proposals to destroy" the arts scene.

"I believe that the Movie House on Dublin Road is one of the best cinemas in the city, out of the very few that we have," reads the petition. "Losing it would be yet another nail in the coffin for the arts in Belfast for the sake of the commercial and financial gain of the minority.

"A petition signed by thousands whilst an open consultation process is ongoing may just make developers think twice about demolishing our cinema."

Michael McAdam, managing director of the Movie House, did not reply to a request for comment.

Richland Group, which is behind the new development, did not wish to comment.

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