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Iconic London cinema could be brought back to life after new flats get green light

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The front of an iconic North London cinema is set to be returned to its former glory after the council approved plans for dozens of new flats at the site.

The 1930s Art Deco façade at the Safari Cinema – previously known as the Dominion in Harrow town centre – will be resurrected under the plans.

Harrow Council approved plans for 78 flats in a block up to 11-storeys high alongside a new arthouse cinema in 2020.

Developers also agreed to restore the old façade of the building, which had been covered up with metal cladding later in the 20th century.

However, after the cladding was removed, it showed the former frontage was in a shocking state of disrepair and heritage campaigners feared the “spectacular” old frontage could be lost.

The Cinema Theatre Association, which seeks to promote and protect cultural buildings across the UK, said if it is not properly supported it could “easily collapse”.

The cinema’s cladding was removed to reveal the old frontage

In a statement, the group said: “Demolition has now reached the back of the façade, which looks to be perilously unsupported and part of the upper wall has already been lost.

“The Cinema Theatre Association is concerned that the work is not up to standard, or may even be the prelude to actual demolition, to be replaced by a replica.”

It added it has been in contact with Harrow Council’s planning department but claimed no assurances have been given that the façade will be protected.

The Safari Cinema specialised in showing Bollywood films for a number of years and also housed a bingo hall and a church in the past.

When permission was granted, planning consultant Emma White said: “Harrow Council has wanted to see the Art Deco façade restored for years.

“It is enshrined within their planning policy for the site and the site has also been earmarked for residential redevelopment.

“For the first time, our client is in a position to be able to deliver on the council’s aspiration – to see the façade restored and Station Road enhanced by its restoration.”

There were some concerns around the lack of affordability as part of the scheme, but councillors appreciated this would be a “landmark development” which would help realise a “long standing” goal of restoring the façade.

Harrow Council and developer Ghulam Alahi have been contacted for comment.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/iconic-london-cinema-could-brought-21984196