Emergency work needed on ex-cinema

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EMERGENCY work needs to be carried out on a derelict building after reports of masonry falling from the site.

Hartlepool Borough Council is looking to carry out work at a cost of £25,000 on the former Odeon cinema building, in the town’s Raby Road, in a bid to protect the public.

The Grade II listed building is privately owned and has stood empty for the past 11 years.

The cost for any repairs will be passed on to the owner of the building, Capanac Leisure, which was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Mail.

Local authorities have the power to make repairs on privately-owned buildings that are posing a threat under the Building Act 1984.

Mayor Stuart Drummond, portfolio holder for community safety and housing, is due to discuss the work at a meeting next week.

A report by Andrew Golightly, the council’s senior regeneration officer, said: “Reports were received by the council that pieces of masonry had fallen from the building onto the surrounding pavements and highway.

“Immediate action was taken by the council to protect these public spaces by providing barriers to restrict access to the affected highway.

“In addition to this immediate response, the council requested that the owners take action to repair the property and address the failing areas of the external walls.

“A schedule of works was prepared and sent to the owners highlighting, from the councils perspective, the works required to ensure the safety of the public highway.

“Despite repeated requests to carry out the works, only limited, short term measures have been implemented by the owners.”

In response the council applied to the magistrates’ court to order the owners to carry out the work, but the deadline expired at the end of May.

Mr Golightly added: “The property is currently secure, but significant measures are required to ensure the property remains safe.”

Mayor Drummond is asked to endorse the emergency repair work and authorise officers to cover the cost of the works from the owners.

The building has featured in the Mail’s Spot the Grots campaign aimed at highlighting derelict sites that spoil the look of the town.

Built in the 1930s, the cinema was designed with a single storey auditorium with room for 1,600 people and was a very popular entertainment venue.

It closed as a cinema in 1981 and subsequently had a number of uses, including as a snooker club.

The 1990s saw it converted into a nightclub with two small cinema screens but it closed its doors in 1999.

The portfolio meeting is due to take place on Friday, July 8, at 9am, in the Civic Centre.

l See Page 12 for the latest on plans to highlight buildings of local significance.