Art Deco former cinema which provided an important entertainment venue for London before closing in January 2018. Currently threatened with demolition as part of the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre.
The Coronet provides a popular and viable large multi-purpose entertainment venue for London and the local area, and is best known for live music events. The Coronet was constructed in 1932, to designs by renowned cinema architect William Riddell Glen for the ABC Circuit, incorporating fragments of an earlier theatre by Frank Matcham. The auditorium, originally two-tier, remains intact as an early example of Glen’s designs for ABC. It is in an Art Deco style with modern, clean lines. Key features are a grille and lay light in the ceiling and the grille work surrounding the large square proscenium. Externally, the original Art Deco façade survives under the blue cladding. The Coronet is the only venue that remains from Elephant and Castle’s cultural heyday when it was known as the ‘Piccadilly of South London’.
Why is this theatre at risk?
Despite much lobbying and over 4,000 people signing an online petition to save the venue, the Coronet is threatened with demolition as part of the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre site for housing, retail and leisure use. The proposed scheme will also provide a new campus for the London College of Communication, including a new cultural venue on an adjacent site, but with a considerably smaller capacity than the Coronet. Theatres Trust firmly believes that a retained Coronet would be an asset in the regenerated Elephant and Castle and has vehemently opposed the demolition of the building throughout the planning process. Theatres Trust was also instrumental in a submission to list the Coronet, which unfortunately was turned down.
The current operator left the building in January 2018 and the threat of demolition remains very real. The planning application for the proposed redevelopment, which was recommended for approval, was withdrawn from December’s Planning Committee after objections over level of social retail and social housing and the loss of the Coronet.
Resubmitted proposals with some changes to the social retail element were considered at Planning Committee on 16 January 2018. The case officer again recommended approval although a condition was inserted requiring the full historical recording of the Coronet to be included prior to the commencement of any demolition works, after pressure from Theatres Trust and the Cinema Theatre Association. However, councillors voted to refuse the application due to a lack of affordable housing and inadequate protection of existing traders, although detailed reasons were not formalised.
The meeting was adjourned and reasons for refusal will be drafted by officers. An extraordinary meeting is now scheduled for 30 January at which a further vote will be held on the basis of those reasons. The adjournment also gives the applicant an opportunity to further amend their proposal and for additional conditions to be proposed which may satisfy the committee that the proposal can instead be approved.
Theatres Trust has continued to lobby for further consideration to be given to integrating the Coronet into the current scheme (it is currently being replaced by a ramp to a carpark), or, at the very least for a like-for-like new performance venue to be provided. Not only does the current application propose a much smaller scale music venue, but due to construction timescales would leave the area without a venue for a period of at least eight years.
Image: Coronet, Theatres Trust