Introduction - The Royalty Harborne

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Lets take a look at what the restored Royalty might provide

We have worked hard developing our proposals for the Royalty. The Planners have said they expect community to be part of any plans by the owner and we are best placed to deliver that. As of August 2020 there has been no approach to us by the owner or their architects to look at our ideas despite invitations to do so. So we move on anyway. We are local people that care about Harborne.

Since the big fire the building remains listed and the Council have the option to require it to be rebuilt. That's what should happen, but we have developed a plan B and even a planC if the Council decide to capitulate. Available to download here is a 'walk through' of our plan B ideas the Trust presented to the planners. We have also commissioned a Heritage Statement which can be downloaded and which identifies the heritage aspects of the building. Many thanks to the Architectural Heritage Fund for financially supporting this. Following on from that will come an options appraisal and impact assessment of any changes on the building. Whether Harborne Royalty Trust or Parminder Singh the owner, we all have to respect that this remains a listed building.
Most of the facilities planned for the original building fortunately remain in our 'Plan B' and we are greatly appreciative of the support of our architect Paul Miller and other advisors. Our intention remains to sensitively restore the building to provide the following commercial and community facilities:
  • An entrance lobby
  • A hall anti room leading to main auditorium which can combine with the auditorium to make a larger space)
  • A large 250 seat auditorium with cinema facilities and stage
  • Dressing rooms for performers
  • Cafe
  • A 50 seat art deco dedicated cinema
  • Exhibition Gallery
  • Restaurant and bar
  • A kitchen
  • Administration offices
  • Community rooms
    Storage rooms for group equipment
  • Male and female toilets
  • Visitor parking
  • Drop off parking
The building must be available for the use by the widest possible cross-section of the public. In brief, commercial and community use objectives will be:
  • To ensure the centre provides a service to the community, at a competitive price;
  • To ensure that the way the centre is designed and used reflects the needs and aspirations of as wide a cross-section of the community as possible;
  • To ensure that the centre is managed in such a way that recognises the differing needs, levels of engagement and backgrounds of Harborne's residents, and to plan and deliver business accordingly.
  • To manage the balance between community and commercial use of the centre in a way that satisfies both the local and wider community.
Space within the building can be broadly divided into:
Main Auditorium

Cinema, live performance, conferences, day nursery facilities, before after school club, Pensioners’ events, services, lunch, supper clubs, yoga / fitness, dance sessions, bring and buy, antiques, vintage fairs, pop-up shops, live performances, theatre, music, comedy, parties, weddings and wedding receptions, conferences, monthly comedy club, regular music shows bringing local, touring national and international groups, professional and amateur pantomime shows, business promotion events, public meetings, childrens parties, primary and secondary school theatre, music and dance shows.

Art Deco Cinema

A 50 seat art deco cinema bringing back the history of the Royalty and a working example of its design and past glory.

Cafe and Restaurant

Along with the auditoriums, the cafe and restaurant will be key commercial drivers to support the Royalty. Parents collecting or waiting for children or attending classes or events will be able to enjoy a chat and freshly made coffee/tea and delicious home made cakes in a friendly atmosphere in the Royalties themed café evoking memories of the Royalty's cinema history whilst the statement restaurant will add something special to the Harborne offering.

Community Space

Really this is for you to decide but the consultation was a great pointer. Examples are community meetings, clubs, youth clubs, scouts, guides, activity Groups including Tai Chi, Zumba, 50+ keep fit, Slimming, Pilates, Yoga, Line Dancing, baby sensory classes, painting and drawing classes, Beavers, Brownies, Cubs and Scouts, Craft workshops,

Exhibitions by artists and local groups. A space where art classes in local schools can showcase their work.

To sum up

The Royalty will act in the best interest of the local community by:

1) Helping Harborne High Street recover and sustain a future vibrant local Harborne economy.

2) Bringing additional employment to the High Street.

2) Retaining a valuable local leisure facility for both performers and audiences.

3) Working to enable the development of youth services both in performing arts and youth outreach services.

4) Retaining an iconic building on the High Street and preserving the street scene.

The Royalty will bring significant extra business and jobs to the West end of the High Street, complimenting the local restaurants and the Vine pub. Additionally the Royalty will provide ‘non commercial ‘ benefits to Harborne which no other venue on the High street can provide.

Whilst the busines plan for the Royalty is based on employing a full payroll of management and staff the Trust will encourage the participation of volunteers. This is important in engaging with the community and ensuring that the output of the Royalty has the support of the community.

Example: Hebden Bridge Picturehouse

Hebden Bridge Picture House (HBPH) is a beautiful single auditorium Grade II listed building (Ref:1379945) in the centre of Hebden Bridge. It is owned and run by Hebden Royd Town Council (HRTC) which has a 125 year lease on the site following an asset transfer from Calderdale Council in 2012. HRTC have successfully operated since 1 April 2012 the site proving its sustainability, financial viability and importance to the local community and are committed to maintaining this unique building and service in the town.
The cinema and its flanking two shop units date from 1921. The front has giant Doric columns and pilasters supporting a deep entablature. The Interior has an original foyer, original panelling and cornice, coved and decorated plaster ceiling. The original staircase to the left leads up to the balcony and the single auditorium retains most of its original classical style decoration. Originally seating 900, the Picture House rapidly became the main place of entertainment for the weavers, mill-workers, and other residents of Hebden Bridge and the upper Calder Valley. The local press in 1921 is quoted as saying the building is "one of the best Picture Houses in the North of England". The Picture House continued to be a thriving source of entertainment well into the war years. In the late 1960s, when many of the mills had closed, the Picture House nearly suffered the fate of so many town cinemas and was very close to becoming a carpet warehouse. It was saved for the town by the actions of the then Hebden Royd Urban District Council (UDC).
The UDC purchased the Picture House from its private owners for the sum of about £6,000. The cinema passed into Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council’s control with local government reorganisation, and after a short period CMBC oversaw a subsequent modernisation in 1978.
In 1999, the future of the Picture House again appeared to be at risk when the site was earmarked for development. A strong community campaign, “Friends of the Picture House”, rapidly mobilised and following a mass lobby of the Calderdale MBC full council in July 1999 the development plans were rejected and the future of the Picture House secured. As one campaigner put it at the time, “I speak of "Our" Picture House… it has become part of our heritage.”
Since then the Picture House has blossomed as one of the very few cinemas in Britain under municipal ownership. Under enlightened management, audiences have grown. Typically, between 15 and 26 film titles are shown each month across an average of 52 screenings, together with live broadcasts of theatre, ballet and opera, and the programming deliberately caters for all tastes, ranging from mainstream Hollywood to art-house and foreign language films. It is a vital facility for both the young and old.
The Picture House, now seating 490 people, is also used extensively for other community-led and commercial events. Among those using the cinema in recent years have been Hebden Bridge Arts Festival (who use it for their headlining acts), Hebden Bridge Trades Club, BBC, Calder Valley Search & Rescue Team, Calder High School, Scout Road School and Riverside Junior School. The Calder Valley Youth Theatre used it for many years but has now successfully outgrown the venue.
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