Demolition Threat: Odeon Cinema
by W E Trent, Clerk Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1930
DATE: 2/7/2015
"It´s called enabling development, isn´t it? Allowing parts of a heritage-designated building to be demolished to ´enable´ the conservation of the remainder. The fate of the old Odeon Cinema, on Clerk Street, in Edinburgh, shows what reality is like. Opened in 1930 as the New Victoria, the cinema remained in constant use until 2003. Thereafter, the marvelous Art-Deco building remained unoccupied and unmaintained, barring brief occasional, intermittent use in 2005 and, more recently, in 2014 – both times not lasting for longer than a month.

In 2014, the city council granted consent to demolish the rear portion of the Odeon cinema. The fly tower had to make way to allow the construction of profitable student housing, facing Buccleuch Street. The original part of the cinema, subdivided, in 1982, into three cinemas on two floors, was meant to be used as entertainment venue. The hilariously expensive entertainment lasted for a month only, before the venue shut again, without any long-term conservation perspective in site. And all of this despite the building being officially heritage-designated, by listing at category A, and on Scotland´s At Risk Register since 2003.

One cannot help wondering if all of this was not just a well-organised stunt by developers to get the concessions to turn the site on Buccleuch Street into lucrative student housing, earning a handsome profit."

[by Docomomo Scotland]