Glasgow City Council is stepping in to save the former Vogue Cinema after its owners started demolition work on the building last week.

The council has told the owners of the building on Balmore Road in Possilpark, Allied Vehicles, that it intends to serve a building preservation order on the former cinema and have arranged to meet them on the site this week.

The move by the council means the building effectively becomes listed for the next six months until a final decision is made. Historic Environment Scotland will then conduct a review and a public consultation on listing the building. The decision would be subject to appeal to the Scottish Government.

The move by the council comes after  a proposal to list the building was submitted by campaigners in June last year to HES in a bid to save it from demolition, with Glasgow MSP Paul Sweeney joining calls to save the building.

READ MORE: Mark Smith - They’ve started tearing down this Glasgow cinema. Why did we let them?

Despite HES informing Glasgow City Council about the proposal in July, an application for a warrant to demolish the building was validated in November and then granted by the council in December. Demolition work on the ceiling then started last week.

The Herald: The cinema has been boarded up The cinema has been boarded up (Image: Pictures of the former Vogue Cinema on Balmore Road, Glasgow. Images taken by Gordon Terris, Newsque)

One of those campaigning to save the cinema, architect Alan Dunlop, said he was delighted at the news.

Mr Dunlop: “It’s brilliant news. If the building is demolished, there would be nothing in that whole area with any character. If you returned it to the way it was when it was originally built, that could be a very handsome building indeed. It could be stunning if you reinstated it.

“People say it would be difficult to convert into housing – it wouldn’t. It just needs imagination and the will to do it. The housing would sit behind the façade on that important junction. You would have a building and housing that could be nowhere else in the city.”

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland said: “We published a report on this building on Friday 12 January. The report concluded that the building meets the criteria for listing, but that we would not list the building given the development context.

“Glasgow City Council has asked us to consider the listing of the building afresh in the context of a building preservation notice and we are now progressing that case.

“A building preservation notice is akin to a temporary listing, and we are now required to decide whether it should be formally listed within six months. 

“If we are proposing a listing we will carry out a consultation before making a decision.”

READ MORE: Bid to save historic city cinema fails as demolition work begins

The former cinema was designed by James McKissack, one of Scotland's most prolific cinema architects.

Opening in August of 1933, it was the first large purpose-built cinema constructed by Smith and Welsh to serve Glasgow's municipal housing estates. 

It originally seated 1,620 and was intended to serve the new Glasgow Corporation housing estate being developed at High Possil and Parkhouse in the wake of the Wheatley Housing Act of 1924. 

The building ceased to trade as a cinema and in April 1968 was converted to a commercial bingo hall.

The bingo hall closed in the 1990s and the auditorium has not been in use since this date, although the entrance section of the ground floor was used as a retail premises.

A spokesman for the council said its officers had contacted the owners of the building and informed them of the service of the building protection notice, highlighted that unauthorised alterations or demolition of the structure would now be an offence and requested that they halt demolition works.

The spokesman said its planning service had been made aware on December 20 that a demolition warrant application had been submitted to the Building Standards Service, which is separate from the planning or listed building processes, and the demolition warrant application was approved on December 22. 

The spokesman said: “A request from the Planning Service to the owner was made on December 21 to visit the site - the site visit was arranged with the owner for Thursday 18 January, as per the owner’s request to hold the meeting after the festive period and arranged holidays.

“Planning officers have instructed the service of the BPN to allow for Historic Environment Scotland to undertake a further assessment following which it is anticipated (clearly this is a decision that must be made by HES after due process) that they will list the building.

“The building will effectively become listed whilst HES proceed to assess it for listing in the context of the BPN. HES have six months to complete their review and this would also include consultation on any proposed designation.  Our planning team has requested that HES expedite this assessment."