The Minister for Planning and Environment is proposing to list the Odeon Cinema in Bath Street as a Grade 1 Listed Building to reflect its national architectural and historic significance.
The 1952 cinema building is already listed and its heritage value is being reassessed by Jersey Heritage as part of an ongoing review of all Jersey’s historic buildings and places.
The proposal to assign Grade 1 status to the building would highlight its rarity in the British Isles as an architecturally complete example of a post-war 1950s cinema. The growth of cinema is also a significant cultural development of the twentieth century and this building is an important symbol of the regeneration of Jersey after the Occupation, both culturally and physically.
Director of Policy and the Historic Environment at the Department of the Environment, Kevin Pilley said, “The buildings and places that the Minister seeks to identify and protect – the traditional granite farm houses, Victorian terraces and crescents and Napoleonic-period forts and towers – are fundamental to Jersey’s distinctive character and what makes the Island so special.”
“This also needs to include those buildings – such as the Odeon – which are rare in a UK context. The Minister has a legal responsibility to identify, assess and designate architecturally and culturally important buildings so that their particular interest can be considered as part of the planning process when proposals are put forward to change them.”
Meanwhile, a recent court judgment on an another historic building – Seymour Villa in St Saviour – has provided a clear signal that the way Jersey protects its historic environment is robust and fit for purpose.
The listings process, run by Jersey’s Environment Department and Jersey Heritage, identifies and designates important buildings and places in the Island that have special heritage value.
This process was challenged in the Island’s courts and two rulings on issues surrounding Seymour Villa have clearly confirmed that the way the system is currently run is robust.
It means that a decision about whether an important Jersey building should be listed must be made on its heritage value alone and should not take account of factors like the state of the building, the cost of repairing it or the planning implications of listing, as some have claimed.
Kevin Pilley said, “We welcome this definitive legal ruling on the listing process which confirms that the way the Minister decides whether a building should be protected is fit for purpose.”
The way Jersey identifies and protects its historic character changed in 2011 and has been supported by a two-year survey of all 4,000 of the Island’s potential listed buildings and places.
Buildings and structures are assessed to define their significance with great care. Many buildings and places are interesting, but listing identifies only those which are of local and national ‘special interest’ architecturally, and historically.
The Department of the Environment and Jersey Heritage are working with property owners as part of that process of review and designation. This includes the Odeon Cinema where the building’s owners have been formally notified of the Minister’s intent to keep the building on the List and to assign a Grade 1 status to it. They now have an opportunity to comment on this, after which time the Minister will determine its status.
It’s expected that all relevant Jersey properties and places will be listed by the end of this year which will mean that that all of the Island’s heritage assets will enjoy statutory protection for the first time.