A century-old cinema in Long Eaton is slated for demolition, making way for a modern development featuring homes and shops. Originally the St James Theatre, the Galaxy Row Cinema has been a subject of debate regarding its future for years. The Erewash Borough Council has now given its approval for the demolition and subsequent construction, unveiling plans funded by government grants during a council meeting on Wednesday night.
The proposed project aims to replace the derelict cinema with 16 flats, four houses, and three shops, aligning with the council’s broader initiative, the Town Deal. Securing £25 million in central government funding in 2021, the council envisions job creation, increased investment, and the promotion of contemporary town center living as integral aspects of this undertaking.
Councillors, while acknowledging the sentimental attachment to the cinema, express relief at the decision to address the persistent issue of the building’s deterioration and the associated anti-social behaviour. A representative for the Conservatives notes that residents frequently lament the cinema as an “eyesore” and, despite acknowledging the positive outlook on the revitalization project, expresses a sense of loss for the iconic facade, welcoming the retention of its design in the new plans.
Similarly, a representative from the Labour Party underscores the development’s positive impact on the town centre, avoiding any discord. However, not all voices share unanimous approval, as a representative from the Green Party raises concerns about the lack of wheelchair-accessible houses in the proposed development, urging a more inclusive approach to cater to all Long Eaton residents’ needs.
Responding to these concerns, the council’s development manager clarifies that the four townhouses planned for Oxford Street will feature level rear access, constituting the extent of accommodations made for disabled residents. Supporters of the project argue that the former cinema, vacant for over a decade, is unsuitable for conversion due to its poor state of repair, limited natural light, and absence of dedicated parking or access.
In an official statement, council officers acknowledge the regrettable loss of the cinema but deem it justified for the greater public good. The proposed development is expected to bring undeniable benefits, outweighing the “less than substantial harm” to the conservation area. The decision reflects a careful balancing act between preserving the town’s heritage and fostering its future growth.
While the cost of the ambitious scheme remains undisclosed, estimates place it between £5 million and £9 million. Council planners acknowledge the regrettable loss of the cinema but maintain that the proposed development’s positive impacts far outweigh the drawbacks. In their official statement, they emphasize that the “loss of the building is considered acceptable” in light of the long-standing vacancy, lack of developer interest, and the building’s poor current appearance.
As Long Eaton gears up for a transformative phase, the historic Galaxy Row Cinema will soon be replaced, marking a new chapter in the town’s history. The proposed development, blending residential and commercial spaces, is poised to reinvigorate the town centre, not just in physical terms but also by promising economic vitality and enhanced community living. While some mourn the loss of a bygone era, others eagerly anticipate the positive changes heralded by this ambitious revitalization project.