Abbey Cinema Wavertree
Lidl bought the building from Co-op with a view to redeveloping the site

Lidl pulls Wavertree plans on listing  

Dan Whelan

Heritage conservationists appear to have won the battle to preserve Abbey Cinema on Church Road North after the supermarket giant withdrew plans to demolish the building when it was granted grade two-listed status. 

Lidl, which bought the site from previous occupier Co-op, said it was considering its next move after Historic England listed the building last month. 

Now, the firm has gone back to the drawing board, withdrawing its plans for an 18,000 sq ft store at the site. 

A spokesperson for Lidl said: “Following Historic England’s decision to the list the building, we have withdrawn our planning application while we consider our next steps.” 

Options for the company moving forward include submitting a listed building application in the hope that Liverpool City Council will grant it permission to demolish the cinema. Alternatively, Lidl could sell the site, however its diminished redevelopment potential might impact the company’s returns. 

Historic England claims the former Abbey Cinema, designed by architect Sir Alfred Ernest Shennan, 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”. 

However, Lidl claims the building is in a state of disrepair and is unfit for use as a shop in its current state. 

“Following thorough surveys and assessments of the existing building, it is quite clear that it is beyond economic repair,” said Stuart Jardine, Lidl’s regional head of property. 

Your Comments

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So what next for this relic of a bygone age? Bring back silent movies, a music hall, a meeting and conference facility for the National Union of NimBys(NUMB). Might it be a tourist attraction for people who like to see old buildings fall into decay and fall down? The excitement to see what will happen is almost to much to bear?

By Mr Picton's clock.

Saving these kinds of buildings is the easy bit, it`s finding a viable future use and any funding which is the more difficult.
Whatever the usage the enormous void of the auditorium will have to be considered , which means it could be used for , say , multi level self storage or flats above any retail. In addition any developer would want to introduce fenestration into the building to add light both on any upper floors as well as ground.

By Anonymous

This building’s future will follow the usual pattern of lying empty, a few roof tiles ‘go missing’, the rain and pigeons get in, the joists rot, the building becomes structurally unsafe and developer claims it is uneconomic to restore and the condition becomes steadily worse until they are eventually given permission to demolish.

By Dom

Seem to recall that similar voices against apparent “Nimbys” were also calling for the demolition of the Albert Dock buildings (filling in the docks for a car park too) – after the site was deemed “beyond economic repair”. This is the same battle…a fear of understanding and tackling real issues and a complete lack of imagination is still holding us back. Client/developers need to stop looking at sites from helicopters and develop meaningful briefs for good designers to take on and deliver beyond a baseline expectation. Shareholders and grey suits rule though – explains why so much appalling new development goes ahead from faceless tin sheds on high streets to the ransacking of the green belt with acres of identikit “Noddy” boxes.

By Archetype

Save this building.

By Bixteth Boy

I agree with the comments on here. This building is irreplaceable and Lidl were chancing their luck on this. Good on the locals for battling to save a key piece of Liverpool’s heritage and to hell with the naysayers!

By Observer

I live near the old Abbey cinema. It is one of the ugliest buildings in the area. Just because it is old is no reason to preserve it. Lidl were prepared to build a bright new attractive supermarket but naturally, this is the U.K. where anything new or modern or clean or useful or convenient is second to buildings with “character”, usually meaning beyond repair, good for nothing, damp, needing millions spending, cold and expensive to run. I like people with character not old-timers who want to relive some fantasy past. It will inevitably go the way of the old St. Andrew’ s church which became an eyesore for decades and the church authorities could neither sell it nor renovate it so it was eventually demolished as being unsafe. What is the matter with this country? Try a visit to Scandinavia which has many beautiful old buildings but just as many new ones designed for the 21st century.

By Brenda

What a grim looking building. Affection for this thing is likely due to its the social role it fulfilled as a cinema, a function that is all but redundant in this location and type of building. Rather than let it rot and become even more of an eyesore, developers should be supported to put it to a more productive use as, say a supermarket or affordable bungalow-type accommodation for the elderly.

By Buddy

I think the (poor) attempt to make the new proposal resemble the existing one just demonstrates its aesthetic appeal. Yes, cheaper to demolish and build something cheap and temporary, but much better to work with what’s there

By Saved

Surely a facade retention scheme would satisfy the heritage camp and also any developers looking at economic viability of various proposals.

By Old Hall Street

I hadn’t been down Picton Road for a while – there seems to be new businesses and establishments springing up! Why can’t this be a market hall or something similar? There are enough people who would like – there is enough feeling in the community and there is a good catchment and demographic that it would suit?

By Bob Dawson

It’s too big it’s ugly it’s out of place it’s had its day.
Time to move on be realistic. Take a look at the huge ugly cinema at the bottom of Park Road. Enough said!

By Anonymous local resident

You cannot compare the Royal Albert Dock to the Abbey Cinema building. Completely different buildings in a completely different location. The Albert Dock is a historic site and a major visitors’ attraction.
The Abbey has had its day. The Lock Up and Clock Tower are lovely historical buildings definitely worth preserving but they are dwarfed by the ugly Abbey!
We desperately need a supermarket in the area.
Will people please consider the elderly in the area who don’t have cars!
If Lidl pull out WHO is going to fund the restoration and the new ideas being put forward.
The building will be left to become another derelict eyesore like the Gaumont at the bottom of Park Road.

By Concerned local resident