Could iconic Milton Keynes building The Point be saved at the last minute?

The Cinema Theatre Association is urging that the iconic pyramid be preserved

By Sally Murrer
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 3:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 5:06 pm

The Cinema Theatre Association has joined the battle to save The Point from demolition.

They say they are "gravely concerned" that the iconic pyramid building will be lost and they describe it as a "stunning visual asset" for Milton Keynes.

The association is urging The Point's new owners Galliard Homes, who bought the site in January, to keep the original structure and build their planned housing development behind it.

Currently Galliard, working with joint venture partner DS Real Estate, hope to demolish the pyramid and build £150m worth of housing and commercial or leisure facilities on the site. They aim to submit a planning application later this year.

A previous move to develop the area for housing failed. Former owners Hammerson were given planning consent back in 2014 but last year, with no work completed, the permission expired and Hammerson put the site up for sale.

This week the battle to save The Point was given fresh impetus by the Cinema Theatre Association (CTA), which for the protection of traditional cinema buildings.

Its casework chairman Richard Gray said: “The Point is overwhelmingly worth saving. Not only is it a stunning visual asset for Milton Keynes, but as Britain's first American style multiplex, it's a building of huge historical and architectural importance."

The Point in MK

He added: “When it opened the Point was a futuristic structure and a tremendously brave venture. The year

before it opened national film attendances had reached an all low time of 54 million following years of chronic underinvestment in our traditional cinemas.

"Within a year of opening admissions at The Point had exceeded all expectations and its inception inspired a revival in cinema going. It's conservation can not and must not be underestimated.”

Currently local charity Return MK occupies The Point, where it does "vital work" for disadvantaged young people, says the CTA.

The Point in MK

Peter Wylde, CTA's architectural caseworker, said: “The importance of the Point in regard to the work which Return MK do is another reason why this iconic building should be saved. They offer education, training and a safe place for marginalised teenagers who have often been excluded from school."

He added: “Return MK wish to remain in the Pyramid and could easily do so if Galliard pursue their aims by

redeveloping the other two-thirds of the site. This is perfectly feasible as Milton Keynes Local Plan clearly specifies that all developments must be 'mixed use' and with some degree of community benefit."

“With that particular viewpoint in mind, we urge the council to ensure the Point pyramid is kept

while Galliard redevelop the rear of the site.”

Jason Lawrence, founder Return MK, agrees with the CTA. He adds: “The Point has always been

the focal point of Milton Keynes. It has been our home for some years, and without it we could not

have connected with the troubled, disengaged generation we find today.

“With a huge increase in knife crime and lack of resources, keeping The Point has never been more important. We are an escape or sanctuary from the troubles these very young people face. The point is a beacon of light and hope for Milton Keynes and its community. There's a point to saving The Point!”

This is the timeline for The Point:

1985 - AMC Theatres open AMC The Point 10. It's the first purpose built multiplex cinema to be built in the UK. It has 10 screens, each seating 200 patrons, and costs £7.5 million. The architects are The Building Design Partnership and the interior designer is Neil Tibbatts. It transforms cinema going in the UK

1986 - Admissions for the first year total 1,050,000. It's more than any UK cinema has achieved in 15 years.

1989 - AMC Theatres sells its UK cinemas to UCI

1991 - The Point hosts the UK Premiere of Harrison Ford's Presumed Innocent.

2003 - The cinema is renamed after UCI rents the cinema to the easyGroup.

2006 - In May the cinema becomes an Odeon.

2014 - The Point's owners, Hammerson, are given consent to demolish and redevelop the entertainment complex.

2015 - On February 26 the The Point/Odeon closes.

2021 - Planning permission expires and Hammerson put the site up for sale. A five year certificate of Immunity from Listing is granted.

2022 - Galliard Homes buy the site and along with joint venture partner DS Real Estate, submit a planning application to build a mixed development on the site.