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Lime Street take 2: plans emerge for another historic Liverpool cinema

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Developer Neptune is set to submit plans by Austin-Smith:Lord to revamp Liverpool’s Grade II-listed ABC cinema, just weeks after it got the go-ahead to demolish the Futurist - an older but unlisted cinema across the road

Earlier this month, the Court of Appeal threw out an application for a judicial review of Neptune’s controversial proposals for the east side of Lime Street - which included the abandoned neo-Georgian Futurist - following a legal challenge by campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

Within hours of the decision, contractors had moved into to tear down the façade of the unlisted 1912 former Futurist cinema and the rest of the terrace is expected to be pulled down in the coming weeks.

The developer said that it had delayed the ABC scheme on the other side of Lime Street until the outcome had been resolved of the challenge to its plans – drawn up by Broadway Malyan – which will replace most of the Eastern Terrace with a £39 million development.

Neptune’s managing director, Steve Parry, said: ‘We couldn’t make progress with a planning application until we were certain work could go ahead on the eastern terrace.

‘But starting work gives confidence to investors that the ABC project is going to form part of a much wider regeneration programme.’

The plans for the 1931 ABC cinema, originally designed by architect Arthur Ernest Shennan, will include a music venue, TV broadcast facilities, bars and restaurants.

Reacting to the news, Jonathan Brown, a heritage campaigner and director of Liverpool-based planning consultancy ShareTheCity.org, said: ‘This shows the power of listing. The Futurist was arguably equally important – it was unique and older.

‘Despite the popular perception, Liverpool is underlisted. We seem to be capable of pulling stuff down that might be listed in other cities.’

Previous plans dating back to 2007 by Snook Architects on behalf of Urban Splash to convert the ABC into a ‘supper club’ and retail units fell victim to the economic downturn.

The ABC cinema opened in 1931 as the Forum Cinema and was a fixture of the city centre’s entertainment scene until it closed in 1998.


Henrietta Billings, director at SAVE Britain’s Heritage

’SAVE would welcome the re-opening of the listed former ABC cinema if the works to restore the building are done sympathetically. But this should not distract from the wanton destruction of the Futurist cinema opposite - one of the worst acts of civic vandalism since the 1970s. More demolition of the 10 historic buildings either side of it is still to come.

The destruction of the Futurist cinema opposite is one of the worst acts of civic vandalism since the 1970s

Liverpool had an opportunity on Lime Street to showcase heritage led regeneration on a highly prominent site at the gateway to this fantastic city. Instead they are demolishing half of the street and more than 200 years of history for what is in our view a monolithic, monotonous, and oversized replacement”.


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