Soho Theatre set to open 1,000-seat venue in north-east London

The former cinema in Walthamstow, which Soho Theatre plans to turn into a 1000-seat venue. Photo: Ewan Munro The former cinema in Walthamstow, which Soho Theatre plans to turn into a 1000-seat venue. Photo: Ewan Munro
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Long-held plans to turn a former north-east London cinema into an entertainment venue managed by Soho Theatre have moved a step closer, after Waltham Forest Council announced its intention to buy the building for £2.6 million.

The council said it was now in discussions with Soho Theatre, which would operate the former Granada cinema as a 1,000-seat entertainment venue. The council said it would be home to “the biggest names in UK and international comedy”, alongside an annual pantomime and other theatre productions.

Waltham Forest Council was last month named the first ever London Borough of Culture under a scheme run by London mayor Sadiq Khan, and its plans to buy the building from EMD Walthamstow LLP is expected to be passed by councillors on March 20.

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The local authority said it would be fully renovated, bringing the venue back to its “former glory” and making it “a destination venue”.

Soho Theatre artistic director Steve Marmion said he would “fill this fantastic building with a 21st-century vision of cine-variety”, adding that the organisation would bring the “best in comedy, cabaret, theatre, screenings and special events” to its stage.

Soho Theatre, which has had plans to run the venue since 2012, already has a connection with the borough, having worked on education projects with schools in the area since 2013.

Council leader Clare Coghill said the venue would bring a “major boost to the long-term economy”, with the council claiming it could generate between £34 and £52 million over a 10-year period.

Renovation of the site is expected to take at least three years.

The site was originally known as the Victoria Music Hall, opening in 1887. In 1907 it was turned into a cinema.

In the 1950s and 1960s it was used for film and live entertainment, and acts such as The Beatles and The Who performed there.

It closed in 2013, with plans for it to be turned into a church. However, a public inquiry determined it could be a “viable entertainment venue”.