Supermarket chain Lidl had planned to demolish the former Abbey Cinema in Wavertree to build a new supermarket and create 30 jobs – but now the plans have been withdrawn. Tony McDonough reports
Plans for a new supermarket at the former Abbey Cinema in Wavertree, which would have led to 30 new jobs, are now in doubt after retailer Lidl withdrew its planning application.
Lidl had bought the site from Co-op, which had previously operated a store on the site. It proposed to demolish the building and construct a new 18,000 sq ft store. Some residents were in favour of the project but heritage campaigners quickly objected.
In April Historic England, the public body which protects old buildings, officially recommended the landmark site for listing at Grade II level, which means it cannot be demolished.
A spokesperson for Lidl told media outlet Place North West: “Following Historic England’s decision to the list the building, we have withdrawn our planning application while we consider our next steps.”
If Lidl wants to push on with the scheme it can submit a listed building application to Liverpool City Council which could grant it permission to demolish the cinema. It may also consider selling the site which was designed by architect Sir Alfred Ernest Shennan.
According to Historic England the former cinema is “an increasingly rare example of a medium-scale 1930s ‘super cinema’ built for a small independent local chain in the heyday of cinema design and cinemagoing”. It also features in the original draft lyrics of The Beatles song In My Life.
Place North West also quoted Stuart Jardine, Lidl’s regional head of property, who added: “Following thorough surveys and assessments of the existing building, it is quite clear that it is beyond economic repair.”
Local Liberal Democrat councillors had backed the heritage campaigners but local Labour councillor Clare McIntyre is dismayed at the decision. She posted on Twitter: “It shouldn’t have been political…it was about what the people that matter the most felt – residents – and they wanted this supermarket.”