Heritage group urged to stop final curtain falling on Odeon

HISTORIC Scotland is being urged by MSPs to step in to stop the "beautiful" Odeon cinema being turned into a hotel.

MSPs from across the political divide are among those to have signed an open letter urging the heritage watchdog to exercise its right to demand a public inquiry. Campaigners fighting to save the art deco cinema in Clerk Street have collected almost 4000 signatures on a protest petition.

Edinburgh-based Duddingston House Properties wants to turn it into a 231-bed boutique hotel, artists' studios and a restaurant.

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It plans to demolish the main building, retaining the facade, saying it would not be economically viable to renovate the entire B-listed building.

Campaigners, however, have not given up hope of raising enough money to take over the building and run it as a cinema, film library and cafe. Trainspotting star Ewen Bremner and former Simple Minds manager Bruce Findlay are among those who have signed the petition.

Mr Findlay, the Edinburgh-based BBC Radio Scotland presenter, said: "The Odeon is one of the most beautiful theatres in the UK and it would be an outrage to demolish such a building."

The campaign has the backing of the Theatres Trust, the Cinema and Theatres Association and Southside Community Council. Edinburgh Central MSP Sarah Boyack is one of 11 people who have signed the open letter to Historic Scotland. She said: "The building was in the process of being upgraded to A-list status and Historic Scotland must not allow this architectural heritage to be lost. "

Green MSP Robin Harper, SNP MSPs Ian McKee and Shirley-Anne Somerville, and city councillors Steve Burgess and Lesley Hinds have also signed the letter.

The city council has approved the development but an objection from Historic Scotland is likely to lead to a public inquiry. Campaigners John Need and Sana Bilgrami have already presented a petition of 2400 signatures to Historic Scotland but their online petition continues to attract 150 signatures a day. Historic Scotland expects to make a decision within the next few weeks.

No-one was available to comment at Duddingston House Properties.

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