Campaigners are calling for the public to urge councillors to reject plans to turn the old Whiteladies Picture House into flats and a gym.
It emerged that planning officers have approved plans to redevelop the 1920s building on Whiteladies Road, despite hundreds of objections.
An online petition has secured more than 1,500 signatures, all backing plans to restore it as “a site of creative and cultural exchange”.
Meanwhile, the manager of cinema firm Light Cinema is promising a £1million investment to turn the site back into a cinema and social space – should the plans be rejected.
Councillors meet on Wednesday afternoon to decide on the residential development. Hattie Appleby, campaigner with the community group Keep Cinema Local, said that if the plans were approved the building’s cinematic history would be lost forever.
“It is absolutely critical that the committee on Wednesday throw out the the property developer’s application or else we may not only lose the opportunity we have now for a cinema, but any chance of a cinema in the future,” she said.
“It is not only a cinema of significant heritage and cultural value, but also a vital community asset. If permission is given for flats, all this will change and the heart will be ripped out of a historical Bristol landmark. We will lose an invaluable public amenity for all, young or old, to enjoy, and the opportunity to revitalise Whiteladies Road.
“There are plenty of sound reasons to refuse this application on planning grounds and it is critical that the committee defend the original purpose of the building on Wednesday. Bristol should take this opportunity to show outsiders that we really care about our cultural heritage.”
John Sullivan, of Light Cinemas, has made a formal bid to redevelop the site. He wants to build a £1m three-screen cinema, with restaurant and club.
“The introduction of digital technology has completely changed the landscape in relation to the competitiveness and
viability of independent cinemas,” he said.
“My bid is backed by a well-tested business plan and top heritage design architects. I would not be pursuing the Whiteladies Picture House, and offering a £1m investment into the building, if I didn’t strongly believe in its viability as a cinema. And this is achievable without needlessly harming the building.”