Thousands back campaign for cinema in Palmers Green

Owner of Arthouse Crouch End keen to open cinema in Green Lanes but has so far failed to secure lease, reports James Cracknell

A mock-up of an Arthouse Cinema in Green Lanes
A mock-up of a potential Arthouse Cinema in Green Lanes

Nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition in support of opening an independent cinema in Palmers Green – in less than one week.

Led by Palmers Green Action Team, the campaign highlights the demand for an entertainment venue to open in the area and act as a focal point along Green Lanes, where there are a number of empty retail premises.

The owner of Arthouse, an award-winning cinema in Crouch End, is supporting the campaign and revealed that he has been attempting to negotiate a lease for a premises in Palmers Green for the last two years, without success.

At least two potential Green Lanes sites have been identified; the former Store 21 shop which closed in 2018 and the former Iceland supermarket which closed in 2019. A third possibility has only come to light very recently, after JD Wetherspoon announced last month it would be selling the lease to The Alfred Herring public house.

But with progress on securing a site having seemingly stalled, Palmers Green Action Team, together with Arthouse, decided to launch its public campaign.

Arthouse owner Sam Neophytou told the Dispatch: “There are two glorious sites on Green Lanes that have been empty for four years. The point is that someone has to take some sort of action over these sites – whether it be the council or the owners – to get them rented out. We can’t have such huge empty sites on the high street, which for whatever reason are just being left vacant.

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“I was involved about three or four years ago when we first went to one of the empty sites. We are opening cinemas in Barking and Harrow and it has always been an interest to try and get a cinema in Green Lanes – purely and simply, there is nothing like it around and we think it’s an important thing for the high street.

“Cinema is not just entertainment, our cinema in Crouch End is a meeting place and we use it for live music and other things. It helps the community integrate. We want to bring some harmony and culture to the street.”

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Sam said he was frustrated that the owners of the two vacant sites were seemingly uninterested in reopening their premises, whether as a cinema or something else. He added: “It is nonsense that these places are closed. I have got family in Palmers Green so I go there a lot. We need to make the high street work.”

Palmers Green Action Team was founded in 2018 by five local residents, bonded by a desire to improve the high street in their local community. The group has so far helped organise litter picks, community events, led a successful campaign for more street trees in Green Lanes, and also helped bring new businesses to the area such as Holtwhites Bakery and Philanthropy CIC.

The group says the vacancy rate in Palmers Green is currently at around 9%, with the largest sites such as the former Iceland and Store 21 units becoming an “eyesore” on the high street.

Inside the vacant former Iceland supermarket in Green Lanes
Inside the vacant former Iceland supermarket in Green Lanes

Among the supporters of the campaign to bring a cinema to Green Lanes is Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous. He said: “I am hugely supportive of the campaign to bring an independent, art cinema to Palmers Green. I believe it will be great for the local area and will help to rejuvenate our high street after a difficult few years during the pandemic.

“I am confident it will be a unique local space for everyone in the community to enjoy and I will support every effort towards making this a reality.”

Costas Georgiou, from the local business group Love Palmers Green, is another supporter. He told the Dispatch: “Compared to the empty shops we have got now in our town centre, it would be an attraction for the area. As business owners we are looking for something to give some life to Palmers Green. We must find different ways to attract people to the area.”

The owners of the former Store 21 and Iceland premises could not be reached for comment.

To sign the petition for a cinema in Palmers Green:

For more information about Palmers Green Action Team:

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