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Cinema Still to be Transformed Into Sports Bar

The transformation of St Andrews’ New Picture House into a luxury sports bar is set to move forward, as reported in The Scotsman on 26 January, but efforts to protect the historic and well-loved cinema are still underway.

University of St Andrews student Ash Johann Curry-Machado started a petition in October that has now gained over 11,500 signatures. Curry-Machado stated that the petition was meant to demonstrate to MP Wendy Chamberlain, North Fife councillors, and owner of the cinema David Morris that the conversion of New Picture House into a sports bar, called T-Squared Social, would be a significant loss to the local community.

Because of conversations with friends and family who live in North East Fife, Curry-Machado believes that T-Squared Social would contribute “to the general trend that drives locals out of St Andrews. One of us has friends in Strathkinness who have lived there for a long time and they say they cannot do their daily errands in St Andrews anymore because it’s all become pubs, cafes and souvenir shops”. In Curry-Machado’s view, T-Squared would be yet another establishment in St Andrews that primarily caters to tourists instead of residents and students.

“Our next step is to take real action”, Curry-Machado said. On Sunday, 11 February, “we will aim to pack the cinema and get every screening sold out…The evidence we collect will be sent to MP Wendy Chamberlain for her meeting on 15 February with Nexus Luxury Collection, and the local councillors for their meeting on 28 February where they will discuss approving the development plans”, Curry-Machado continued.

Obstacles for the survival of New Picture House remain. Morris told The Scotsman that the cinema has recently been operating at 10% its capacity. In a statement to The Saint on behalf of developers Nexus Luxury, Orbit Communications claimed, “This intervention by T-Squared not only allows a cinema offering to be retained for the town, but indeed the building itself, through the delivery of a blended cinema, dining and entertainment offering”. 

Currently, it is unclear what these amenities will entail, but “The plans showing the modernisation of the building, renovating and enhancing the interior, not the exterior, will shortly be provided”, Orbit Communications noted in their statement. They concluded by saying that if the development did not progress, the building would “be sold and most likely become another University building, with the loss of any cinema offering”.

Despite the difficulties posed, Curry-Machado encourages everyone who cares about New Picture House to show their support for preserving the beloved cinema on 11 February.

Image by Sasha Smithie

Illustration by Lauren McAndrew

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