Bank sale plans ‘threat’ to future of old Sheffield cinema

Abbeydale Picture House 21. Abbeydale Picture House'PictureJB
Abbeydale Picture House 21. Abbeydale Picture House'PictureJB
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FRIENDS of Abbeydale Picture House may be thwarted in their bid to buy back the Grade II listed facility from bankers.

The group went into administration last year and Yorkshire Bank took ownership of the landmark building on Abbeydale Road.

But the Friends reformed and new members embarked on a fundraising crusade to raise the £150,000 necessary to regain control of the old cinema and theatre.

They have only raised £40,000 but have managed to secure a £150,000 loan which will be available by the end of September.

In the meantime, Yorkshire Bank has put Abbeydale Picture House up for auction, and the property will go under the hammer on September 18 - before the Friends have their money.

Sara Hill, one of five trustees of the Friends of Abbeydale Picture House, which has around 200 members, said: “It would be devastating if we were unable to purchase the building and it fell into other hands.

“We have worked really hard to secure the funding and believed that Yorkshire Bank was willing to sell back to us.

“But last week, we received a letter from the bank saying it was going to be sold at auction.”

Sara said she believes the bank wants to dispose of the property before a change in the law. Under the new Localism Act which comes into force on October 1, a right to buy is being created for voluntary groups and charities to purchase buildings of ‘community value’.

She said: “I believe the bank does not want to wait for the new legislation to come into force.”

The Friends of Abbeydale Picture House, which currently uses the building to stage amateur shows, is applying for National Lottery cash to fund an extensive restoration and modernisation project, which would cost almost £900,000.

A Yorkshire Bank spokeswoman said: “We have an obligation to secure the best price possible for any property we sell. While not being able to comment on specific cases, we advertise properties openly and only if no acceptable offers are received do we then move to auction.

“When an auction date is set we cannot change this at the request of a possible bidder; it is unfair on other parties and there is no guarantee that they would be the highest bidder.”