Willmott Dixon Interiors has begun the next phase of restoration of a former art deco inspired Granada / EMD cinema in Walthamstow on behalf of the Waltham Forest Council.
The contractor has started renovations on the former Granada / EMD Grade II * cinema on Hoe Street, as part of a Â£ 25.6million project to restore the building to a versatile entertainment venue with 950 seats, with a bar and a restaurant.
The intricate renovation will include seat and stage remodeling to allow live performances with improved sightlines, while original features including the ziggurat ceiling and building facade will be restored to their former glory. .
First opened as the Granada Cinema in 1930, the venue was known as the ‘Walthamstow Theater of Wonders’ and in its heyday saw performances by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield and Johnny Cash. It became derelict after it closed almost two decades ago and was listed on the 2015 âDangerous Buildingsâ register by the Theater Trust.
The Waltham Forest Council obtained the building permit for the restoration project in June 2020. Willmott Dixon Interiors has since carried out preparatory work for the renovation project, including strengthening the foundations, site security and site hosting, as well as structural studies and the release of asbestos.
The Soho Theater is expected to reopen the new facility to the public in 2022.
Graham Shaw said: âThis is a magnificent heritage building that now has an exciting new future. We look forward to delivering a modern, nationally recognized entertainment venue that honors the building’s unique history and is once again a popular destination to visit. It has the potential to create many new jobs and make a significant contribution to the local economy.
Cllr Simon Miller, Member of Economic Growth and Housing Development, said: âHere at Waltham Forest, our number one priority is economic recovery and connecting people with jobs, so I’m thrilled with the partnership. of Council with Willmott Dixon and their outstanding social values ââprogram. This incredible transformation of the former Granada / EMD cinema is already bringing benefits to the community, as we knew, and is a key cultural regeneration project for the main street and the entire borough. I applaud Willmott Dixon Interiors for their accomplishments so far, and look forward to seeing the community benefits this exciting project will bring next year ahead of its grand opening in early 2023. â
Willmott Dixon Interiors recorded a Social Return on Investment (SROI) of over Â£ 2.3million by providing skills and employment opportunities to local disadvantaged people during the early stages of the project.
The entrepreneur has partnered with Jobcentre Plus to launch the Building Lives Academy, a pop-up skills center to help connect locals with construction jobs. A cohort of seven jobseekers received more than 500 hours of service, representing an investment of Â£ 53,000, and another 14 local people are employed during the life of the project, two of whom were previously long-term unemployed.
Willmott Dixon Interiors has also invested over Â£ 200,000 in virtual work experience sessions for 32 young women, covering topics such as mental health, personal branding and emotional intelligence.
The restoration of the old Granada / EMD cinema is being carried out by Willmott Dixon Interiors and a project team including Bond Bryan Architects and Aecom as quantity surveyors. It was acquired through the framework of the Procurement Hub.
The project further expands Willmott Dixon Interiors’ track record of transforming iconic heritage buildings into entertainment buildings. The company has already completed renovation projects at other Category II * properties across the UK including Stockton Globe, Colston Hall in Bristol, Darlington Hippodrome, Octagon Theater in Bolton and Eltham Cinema in Greenwich.