AN ARTS trust said it is "well-positioned" to bid to restore an art deco cinema in Portobello and bring it back into use as an arts and community hub after a flats plan was rejected.

The Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust, which restored the Drill Hall in Dalmeny Street in Edinburgh, said it wants to take over the Bath Street cinema after a plan to demolish the building except for the façade was refused planning permission.

Read more: Art deco cinema in demolition battle​

It came as campaigners won a bid to block the demolition of the beloved 1939 icon. The councillors voted against the advice of their planning officers who had recommended approval of the flats plan.


The plan to turn the C-listed former County and later George Cinema in Portobello into 20 flats was unanimously rejected by Edinburgh City Council's development management sub-committee.

Read more: Art deco cinema demolition battle reaches hearing

Campaigners including Michael Davidson of Friends of the George, Portobello Community Council and four Portobello and Craigmillar ward councillors argued the building could be kept and refurbished as a cinema and community and arts hub.


The developer's consultants found asbestos in the building but separate specialist consultants for the objectors argued the building could still be repaired. Image: Gordon Terris

It was rejected on the grounds it failed the historic building test that it could not be restored.

Asked about funding the renovation, Phil Denning, chairman of Out of the Blue, said: "It is something that we are definitely well-positioned to do we have extensive relationships with our bankers

Read more: Art deco cinema in demolition battle​

"At the time of our feasibility work we noted an interest to purchase the site, though it was sold without notification to the current developer.

"We continue to collaborate in the development of the building as a community cinema and a cultural venue."


Above: The auditorium retains period features

He said: "With our commitment to support the delivery of this project Out of the Blue bring a wealth of experience and expertise perhaps best illustrated by the restoration and rejuvenation of our base the Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street which following our successful intervention had its listing designation upgraded to A."

It would be a "viable functioning arts centre and community hub", he said.

Read more: Art deco cinema saved from demolition as flats plan rejected​

Liam Buckley, of Edinburgh-based developer Buckley Building, said: "I spent most of my life in and around Portobello.

"I grew up on a top floor flat on Mentone Avenue overlooking the George and at the time my granny and grandad lived at the bottom of Bath Street.

"So I have been well aware of this building and its history from an early age.


Above: Planning permission for flats was refused

"I was the only party to come forward with a credible offer to own the building and since that time we have been transparent in our approach to offer a unique conservation design led proposal.

"I have had regular encouragement and support from the silent majority of residents in Portobello."

The developer is understood to be considering appealing the decision to the Scottish Government.