Supermarket chain Lidl is set to open a new Liverpool store at the former Abbey Cinema in Wavertree – reversing plans to demolish the building. Tony McDonough reports
Lidl is set to reverse its plans to demolish the former Abbey Cinema in Wavertree and now aims to open a new supermarket in the building, creating 30 jobs.
Early last year Lidl announced it would demolish the building to build a new 18,000 sq ft outlet. Many local residents were in favour of the scheme but heritage campaigners quickly objected.
In April 2021, Historic England, the public body which protects old buildings, officially recommended the landmark site for listing at Grade II level. This forced Lidl to withdraw its planning application and there were fears the project would be abandoned altogether.
According to Historic England the former cinema, designed by architect Sir Alfred Ernest Shennan, is “an increasingly rare example of a medium-scale 1930s ‘super cinema’. It was 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.
In April Lidl told LBN it was conducting a fresh survey of the site. Now it has decided it can keep the Abbey and is now putting its plans out to public consultation. It has already taken feedback from the local community and consulted with construction experts.
This proposed multi-million pound investment would see the current site redeveloped into a Lidl store as well as retaining and renovating the façade of the former Abbey Cinema. It feature Lidl’s in-store bakery and customer toilets including baby changing facilities.
If approved, the new outlet would create around 30 new full and part-time jobs. Following Lidl’s biggest ever investment into wages earlier this year, the roles would offer what Lidl says is one of the best wages in the industry with entry-level pay beginning at £10.10 per hour.
Regional head of property, Stuart Jardine, said: “We have listened carefully to feedback from residents and stakeholder groups. And we believe our proposals are the most viable option to revitalise this area for the local community.
“We are pleased to present the new plans which would not only deliver Lidl’s high quality and affordable produce to residents, but also retain and enhance the former Abbey Cinema building.
For more information about the proposals residents can visit the dedicated website by clicking here. Anyone who would like to discuss the proposals can call 0800 089 0361 or email firstname.lastname@example.org