Fears Essex cinema left empty for a decade will soon be beyond repair

An Essex town’s former-cinema which has stood vacant for the past decade could soon fall into council ownership if nothing is done to the site.

The Broadway Cinema in Pitsea, Essex, has been a mainstay in the town for more than 90 years.

Originally opening as a cinema in the 1930s, the building has been home to social clubs, theatres and most recently bingo halls.

But since Gala Bingo announced the site would close in 2009, the building has stood completely empty.

Over time, it became more and more decrepit, and subject to a number of unfortunate incidents.

In 2017, asbestos was found in parts of the building, forcing a mesh of metal gating to be placed around it.

The iconic cinema opened at The Broadway Cinema in the 1930s
The iconic cinema opened at The Broadway Cinema in the 1930s
(Image: Basildon Heritage)

Two years later, a fire broke out in the upstairs of the building, leaving it heavily damaged.

Many feel like the building is now beyond repair, which is why Basildon Council has announced that it’s issued the building’s owners with an enforcement notice to clear up the site.

The enforcement notice was announced in a council meeting earlier this month, and would put a dampener on proposed plans for 90 flats to be built on the property, which have been talked about for more than a year.

However, Basildon Council hasn’t received any formal planning applications from the current owners.

If the building remains in its current state for the next 12 months, Basildon Council will have the option of a compulsory purchase, and will buy the building off the current owners for much less that they are currently asking for it.

The dramatic moment the near 90 year old building was ablaze
A fire broke out at the property in 2019
(Image: Kel Clark)

Leader of Basildon Council and councillor for Pitsea North West Gavin Callaghan said that the council has refused a joint venture with the building’s current owners, and believe that in a year’s time the building will be under council ownership.

Cllr Callaghan said: “We’ve now served the owner an enforcement notice, saying they have the clean it up.

“If they haven’t brought forward credible realistic plans inside 12 months, the council can compulsory purchase the site.

“It’s in his [the owner’s] interests now to get serious.”

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Cllr Callaghan has said that his administration hasn’t purchased the property because of how high the current asking price is.

But if offered a compulsory purchase for less, the council will choose to bring the town icon into council ownership.

When asked whether the council intend to buy the property, he said: “That’s the ambition, but we want to protect the taxpayer.”

Essex Live