Published: (Updated: )
Campaign continues after theatre ownership change
Back in July 2022 we heard that the theatre freehold had been sold again, to Ruach City Church. Since then, we have held our AGM and Campaign meetings to update and discuss our plans. Ruach have been in touch with The Friends and some of us met with them recently. We have also been in touch with Lambeth officers and Councillors, Theatres Trust, and the theatre company who lost out on acquiring the building.
The campaign is continuing with the same aims, but now we are able to engage with the building owners, which was not happening before, and those owners want the building primarily as it is and not as a development opportunity.
Ruach plan to use the building for their own purposes, as a church and centre for their South London congregation, currently meeting in Brixton. The Brixton site has been sold to pay for the theatre, which they have apparently been interested in acquiring for many years. They tell us they love the theatre and want to keep the scale and décor for their new home. They have a larger Grade II* cinema in Kilburn which they converted to a church some years ago, which is likely to be a model for Streatham Hill.
Ruach have a target to bring the auditorium into use in the next two years, then continue to renovate the rest of the building. It’s early days and they will need to go through planning permission/change of use and listed building applications. It seems likely that they will aim to save the heritage of the building itself. It remains our aim to ensure its heritage as a theatre is preserved, its inherent capability for future use as a theatre is not disabled, and that capability is encompassed by any renovations.
The aforementioned theatre company have now been introduced to Ruach, and we obviously hope for a positive outcome from any talks between the two organisations.
Our campaign is still seeking community access to see and use the building in a meaningful way, alongside Ruach’s own uses, for arts/culture and community activity as outlined by our aims and vision.
In the short term we have asked Ruach if they might open up for Open House or the Streatham Festival this year, and if there might be opportunities to use the building while they are planning and designing their renovations.
We will continue to talk with Ruach, Lambeth and our Councillors, Theatres Trust etc. as Ruach go through that planning process to do all we possibly can to meet the campaign aims.