Theatre spar hotel project secures planning consent

Multi-million pound plans to transform the Garrick building in Southport town centre into ‘the UK’s only theatre spa hotel’ secure planning approval. Andrew Brown reports

Garrick, Southport
Image of how the Garrick development will look once complete


Council planners have given the go-ahead to a proposal to transform the Garrick building in Southport town centre into ‘the UK’s only theatre spa hotel’.

This beautiful art deco building on Lord Street, which was created in 1932, will now be restored and converted in a multi-million pound development to provide:

  • 109 new hotel rooms.
  • 12 luxury apartments including a 4th floor terrace and pool.
  • Gym and spa.
  • Bar and restaurant.
  • Refurbishment of the existing event auditorium to create a new theatre space.

Sefton Council said that the landmark building, designed by renowned architect George Tonge in an Art Deco style, has been “an important landmark for Southport for generations”.

Restoring it will “provide a boost to the building’s long-term future and economy by bringing new life to this part of the conservation area”.

Garrick Southport Ltd submitted a planning application for the scheme in June last year.  Earlier this year the firm created boards along the ground floor of the development, with artist’s impressions of how it would look when finished.

Giving the go ahead for the development is a massive boost for the southern end of Lord Street. The Victorian boulevard  has seen millions of pounds invested at the northern end in recent years, with the likes of The Grand, the Lord Street Hotel, the Bold Hotel and more.

The Garrick building has been empty since 2020 and was last occupied by Mecca Bingo.

Initial concerns with regards to use of the roof space above the auditorium, and impact on art deco ceiling have been resolved by removing these, and overall hotel rooms have been reduced from 137 to 109.

The scheme includes a tiered vertical extension adding three floors of accommodation on top of the building.

In his report, Sefton Council Chief Planning Officer Derek McKenzie said: “The proposed development would retain an active frontage onto Lord Street frontages, supporting vitality and viability.

“The uses proposed on the upper floors would be compatible with the retail and commercial character of the area, and the proposals would secure the re-use, repair and restoration of a heritage asset that would improve and benefit the area.

“The development would also provide facilities to encourage visitors to the Southport Central Area, which is a strategic location for tourism.

“The Garrick Theatre is located at the southern end of Lord Street and falls within the Lord Street Conservation Area. The property is also a Grade ll Listed Building.

“Due to its architectural quality the building makes a positive contribution to the street scene and the Conservation Area.

“The building was designed by the renowned architect George Tonge in an Art Deco style and has been an important landmark for Southport for generations.

“The building’s life as a large-scale theatre was short lived, and in the early 1960s the building was adapted into a bingo hall, with a number of unfortunate and insensitive alterations carried out.”

Promotional boards were installed outside The Garrick building earlier this year, proclaiming ‘the UK’s only theatre spa hotel’.

Giant images along the ground floor show what the iconic art deco building, which originally opened in 1932, will look like when multi-million pound renovation work is complete.


Garrick, Southport
Image of the proposed interior design of the Garrick
Garrick, Southport
How the Garrick building looks today. Picture by Andrew Brown / Stand Up For Southport


The images bear captions including ‘coming soon – the UK’s only spa theatre hotel’; ‘we are rehearsing a grand revival’; ‘the next act is elegance’; ‘a place like no other’; and ‘a historic icon set to be restored’.

A planning application for the scheme was lodged with Sefton Council in June 2023.

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The proposal involves the part conversion to provide residential, hotel, spa and retail units at ground floor, and the refurbishment of the existing auditorium as an event space.

It is part of a resurgence taking place along Lord Street, with exciting plans to continue redeveloping The Grand after £4m already invested; more investment taking place at The Bold Hotel earlier this year; a new climbing wall and gym due to open this year; plus a number of other schemes.

This article first appeared in Stand Up For Southport

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