FONTGATE: WAVE OF OPPOSITION TO CHURCH PLANS – as a blogger named ‘Fang’ sinks his teeth into KICC
MOVES BY the Pentecostal church which owns the former cinema building at 25 Church Road to make a SECOND attempt at turning the building into a church – but with community use thrown in this time around – have unleashed a torrent of criticism and objections.
Among a huge wave of critical posts on Virtual Norwood the latest – from Fang – says “It is clear that 25 Church Road is now unsuited to any of the ‘community’ uses the KICC is proposing.”
In a stinging attack on the blogsite he says: “I could list the instances of the KICC ignoring regulatory obligations, their duties as a charity, reneging on undertakings freely given to public servants and elected representatives but I’m not sure that there is sufficient bandwidth available.
Further criticisms have come on the Picture Palace Campaign’s Facebook page (see separate story).
“‘Fontgate’ is just a recent example of this pattern of behaviour. “They laughed and said ‘No’ when Sharon Baldwin, a Croydon council officer, asked them at a meeting some years ago if they had installed a baptismal font.
“They repeated these denials on numerous occasions to councillors and officers. “Apparently they even misled their own planning consultants! “What then are we to deduce about the KICC’s honesty following Saturdays discovery?
“Taking this into account, do you really believe that imposing conditions and legal agreements offers any sort of a solution?
“All the evidence suggests that the KICC doesn’t do conditions, agreements rules or regulations. “On top of this, any agreement would be policed by an under-resourced local authority planning department.
“I’m not certain that a planning inspector would come down in favour of a change of use for the building. “This is a building of significant cultural and economic potential and importance, a registered community asset.
“Its loss to the community would have far reaching consequences.
“There is also the issue of how a heavily used KICC ‘church’ and the huge parking and traffic issues it will generate, will compound the challenges to the district the ZRG development (for part of Crystal Palace park) will produce.
“It is clear that 25 Church Road is now unsuited to any of the ‘community’ uses the KICC is proposing. “They have turned it into a church, plain and simple and a planning authority is unlikely to see their current ‘offer’ as being either realistic or ameliorative.
“This was never was just about the good people of Crystal Palace having access to a commercial independent cinema, as nice as that would be.
“It was about increasing economic activity in the district and complementing its status as a cultural and artistic ‘hub’. “It was about increasing footfall along Church road, which is sorely in need of regeneration.
“The offer of occasional ‘family’ films, selected for us by pastor Dipo and shown on a makeshift screen in the upper circle of the auditorium, falls some way short of these aspirations. “It is insulting.
“This issue has generated a lot of heat and light over the years but from what I can see the Picture Palace Campaign has presented its arguments in an honest and dispassionate manner.
“In doing so, they have gained the respect of MP’s, council officers, councillors and the community. “If I’m frank, there are times when I wish they would be more gung ho.”