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36 apartments for former film house

Plans lodged for Art deco cinema conversion

State Street cinema Leith

Artist’s impression of converted cinema

Scottish developer Glencairn Properties has submitted plans to convert a former Art Deco cinema into residential apartments.

The company wants to refurbish the rundown Grade B building on Great Junction Street in Edinburgh’s Leith area and replace a warehouse at the rear with a contemporary extension overlooking the Water of Leith.

Some original aspects of the cinema building have been retained including the spacious foyer, which will serve as an entrance to the accommodation.  The top floor has been set back to provide a deck with extensive views back towards the city and Arthur’s Seat with the entire build scaled to the height of the existing auditorium. 

Former State cinema Leith

Former State Street cinema as it is now (photo by Terry Murden)

Secure underground parking has been factored into the plans as well as internal bicycle stores.  

The State Cinema in Leith closed in 1972 and has since been used as a bingo hall, a nightclub and church.

Daryl Teague, director of Glencairn Properties, said: “This hasn’t been a straightforward project, there were several complex issues we had to address to get to this stage but we are confident that our plans will create a unique development that will greatly improve and enhance the area. 

State Street cinema in its prime (

“We have tried to breathe life into the original building and respected many of the original art deco features with our design.

“The planning application has been submitted now and if successful we would estimate the development to commence late 2018.

“In the meantime, we have partnered with the Hidden Doors team and provided the building as a new arts venue for the Festival next year.”

Consultants on the application are ISA Architects and Scott Hobbs Planning. 

The State cinema building was originally designed by architect Sir James Miller and opened in December 1938, part of a multi-use leisure development that incorporated shops, two billiard halls, and a skittle alley. 

Plan for rear of cinema

The State’s opening night featured Madeleine Carroll in Blockade and Gene Autry in Boots and Saddles.

It could seat 1,650 patrons, of whom 450 were on the raised portion behind the stalls. The cinema closed in 1972 after showing Richard Burton in Where Eagles Dare and it became a Mecca bingo hall.

In 1995 it was B-listed by Historic Scotland, although nothing of the original features remain.

In 2002 it was turned into the Babylon nightclub, which closed two years later. It continues to have a number of uses, including the Kingdom Church.

In February 2005 plans were proposed by Glasgow-based developer Walter Barratt to demolish the auditorium and retain the facade and foyer as an entrance to a new block of flats on the site. There was also a plan for a restaurant along the Water of Leith side of the building.

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