A planning inquiry has dismissed an appeal for the development of the former Saville Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, dating from the 1930s and an important theatre, music hall, and since the 1970s, cinema. The 1930s Art Deco building has a large stone frieze by the renowned sculpture Gilbert Bayes depicting “Drama through the Ages” on its prominent frontage and in the 1960s under Brian Epstein hosted the Beatles, and in the 1970s, as an ABC cinema, hosted Her Majesty The Queen. The proposed redevelopment of the Grade II listed building included a hotel, restaurant, spa and basement cinema from a four-screen Odeon. The plan was initially rejected by the London Borough of Camden in 2019.
The first main issue for the appeals was the effect of the proposal on the significance of the host listed building and the nearby Seven Dials and Denmark Street Conservation Areas. The Inspector found that the change of use, and the proposed extension’s design in its mass, bulk and materials, would harm the significance of the Grade II Former Saville Theatre, and was not sufficiently justified by the public benefits, as well as harming the Conservation Areas. Other issues were also upheld. There were five main parties in the appeal, including the Theatres Trust, the statutory consultee, who appeared for the first time as a Rule 6 Party at a public inquiry, and two Rule 6 parties of local resident groups.
The inquiry was heard from 1st to 18th December 2020 and heard closing submissions on 5th and 6th January 2021.
Click here for the appeal decision.