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HomeBusinessPlanning decision to convert Safari Cinema to apartments due in June

Planning decision to convert Safari Cinema to apartments due in June

A contractor has applied for planning permission to redevelop Harrow’s Safari Cinema into residential apartments.

On the face of it

If you’re a regular visitor to ‘the big Tesco’ in Harrow, or enjoy the odd meal at the Sangeetha vegetarian restaurant then you will no doubt have noticed the changing facade of the Safari Cinema. In 2020, work began on removing the modern facing from the building – work which was, of course, halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An application has been made for planning permission to develop the site into 78 apartments. A planning permission application is the process whereby a business or an individual seeks permission from a local authority to undergo a building project within a specific borough.

Screen time

The Safari Cinema, which is situated at 79 Station Road, was opened as The Dominion Cinema on the 9th of January 1936. The stunning art deco building featured seating for 2500 people consisting of stalls, circles and general seating.

The first film shown at the cinema was ‘Scrooge’ starring Seymour Hicks and, the feature was accompanied by the Joseph Muscant Orchestra and three variety acts.

Just one month after it’s grand opening, the building was bought by Associated British Cinemas and, was officially renamed ABC in 1962.  The name wasn’t the only change made at this time as ABC decided to dismantle the beautiful art deco facade in order to replace it with a more modern frontage.

The building remained in the hands of ABC until 1972 when the cinema closed after a final showing of ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ starring Trevor Howarrd.

Ekdum dhaansu film hai, yaar!

Following the closure, the building was split into two separate units – a Bingo club and a smaller cinema – the ABC2. In the mid 1980s Cannon Cinemas bought the site, showing mainstream films until an independent operator bought the building and returned it once again to a cinema, this time a venue named The Safari Cinema which screened Bollywood movies.  

Calling house

During its lifetime, the site at 79 Station Road has been home to cinemas, cafes, Bingo clubs and even a church but, if planning permission is granted by Harrow Council, this iconic site is set to be a different kind of home for 78 households. The planning permission decision is due on the 20th June which will be made available to the public, via the council’s website, no later than the 23rd July.

While no details of the proposed apartments have been released, it is reported that, if successful, the contractor intends to reinstate the building’s original art deco facade.