Abbey Cinema Wavertree
The building was most recently occupied by the Co-op

Lidl scuppered by Abbey Cinema listing 

Dan Whelan

The discount supermarket chain is being forced to rethink its plans for a store in Wavertree after Historic England slapped a grade two listing on a building the company planned to demolish. 

Designed by architect Sir Alfred Ernest Shennan and built in the 1930s, Abbey Cinema on Church Road North was due to be demolished to make way for a 17,700 sq ft supermarketpart of Lidl’s £1.3bn nationwide expansion strategy. 

However, Historic England has thrown a spanner in the works by listing the building, which was most recently used as a Co-op supermarket that closed last April.

The conservation body claims the former Abbey 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”. 

Following the listing, a Lidl spokesperson said: “We are aware of Historic England’s decision and we are now considering next steps.” 

Having opened a public consultation on its plans earlier this year, Lidl said it understood that “the proposed demolition of the building may be disappointing to some people…[but] it is simply not economically viable to restore the building and retain it as a supermarket.”

Lidl Wavertree

Lidl wants to demolish the cinema and build a supermarket

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

A petition to save the cinema building, which Historic England said was built at a cost of £50,000 by contractors Roberts & Sloss, has garnered more than 7,000 signatures. 

Abbey Cinema opened in 1939 and closed in 1979 before being used as a bingo hall and snooker hall. 

Your Comments

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It doesn’t stop anything, it just means that they have to apply for listed building consent to LCC to demolish or do anything.
I not that HE or any of the other protestors have offered any cash to help restore the building or even suggested new uses.
With no use, it has no future.
The only thing I can think of is a flat conversion above a supermarket with a new structure build inside the auditorium and windows punched through the walls. It not that I want it demolished but the people that suddenly got off their backside have done nothing to help it for years and likely its future will be similar to the futurist.


Good stuff. Far more thought, time and effort went into designing and building that cinema than another tin shed selling rip off chocolate caterpillars, or is that the other identically bland one? Always get my l’s, d’s and a’s mixed up. What’s wrong with the CoOp

By Colin the architect

Great, who’s going to maintain it now,will it fall into disrepair and become an eyesore and later vandalised as what has happened to other such preserved buildings. Will Hysterical England foot the bill, will the 7,000 signatories on the petition raise the funds themselves. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Perhaps convert the upper part to loft apartments and commercial space on the lower with perhaps a local convenience store there?

By Mr Picton

Just get on with it. We need a supermarket at the moment I have to get a bus to access a supermarket. Not ideal.

By Patricia Fox

Hurray for Historic England. Saving us from mundanity.


glad its been saved – sad that a smaller supermarket could not take it and have apartments above? Why can’t we have a Booths or an independent? Sick of Aldi, Lidl, Asda! Something different is needed!
Doesn’t the whole of Picton Road/High St need thinking about? Inject some life into it – there is a good catchment and cross section of people. The High St is crying out for help.

By Lizzy Baggot

Well done HE for having listened to local experts and campaigners. Chains like this never really have intentions of “engaging” with local communities, they just “consult” by spending most of their “design” budgets on PR companies to spin the stories, exaggerate the issues and then say “we’ve listened”. They should be instead invest some of the billions in profits they make from everyday people into reinvigorating and improving the places they want a presence in. Don’t be fooled that this is “uneconomic” – re-building our communities around placemaking (of which the historic environment is a key ingredient) is the only viable and sustainable future. If the payback to profit takes a bit longer so be it if you’re really serious about sustainable investment.

By Archetype

“It is simply not economically viable to restore the building and retain it as a supermarket.” – You shouldn’t have bought it then!

By Brian

This is the right decision. The Lidl scheme looked awful.

Several other cinemas have been utilised as supermarkets and this should be no exception.

By Observer

So what will happen now it will just crumble to the ground

By Anonymous

Personally think that a new supermarket in this location would have been far more beneficial to the local community. Old cinemas such as this don’t lend themselves to new uses. It will now likely continue to be a blight. It is not an attractive building, and its degenerate state creates a feeling of grimness. There are plenty of other historical and landmark buildings and structures here ( pub, clock, lock-up) and along the High Street. This building is not suitable for a modern supermarket befitting a busy residential location.


It’s such as shame as it will now be left to rot, just because of the stupid red tape surrounding the whole thing. Having a Lidl would only greatly benefit the area. Now having a rotting ugly building is going to be to the detriment of the area. it serves absolutely no purpose but to suit the minority that cried about it being demolished

By Anon

Due to economic events the likes of Lidl, Aldi and other such supermarkets have provided many of us with a much more economical way of living and not just for the few, these shops are packed because people are struggling to live on their incomes or lack of them. I just feel that once again the privilged few are denying the most vunerable the opportunity to buy food at affordable prices. The days of big cinemas are gone stop living in the past, what next keep the tram sheds?

By Accept it?

Who will maintain this ugly grade 2 listed building? Another empty crumbling building in Wavertree!

By Anne HIrrell

Could it not be a market hall – something for the community with different shops in it? and a food hall? With apartments above? Rather than just another lidl or Aldi? Something a bit independent. There is the catchment and the demographic to support something like this – and Picton Road needs a leg up! There are plenty of people who have voted against the plans who want something different. There is a Wavertree community group – surely they should have some sway on this? So sick of Aldi and Lidl and soulless supermarkets.

By Anon

There’s a LIDL a massive ASDA and a Tesco all within 1.5km of this site. All walkable, and on major bus routes. Community food shops on Picton and Lawrence. Presumably the apron car parking was for the ‘privileged few’?

By LEighteen

Much as I like saving buildings of merit it will be hard to rescue this one, and I think it only has a future as flats, and that will mean it needs gutting and rebuilding internally which ain`t cheap. There is an example in South London near Clapham Junction station, called Transformation House,on StJohns Hill, an old cinema being converted into residential, but it needed money and high demand.

By Anonymous

It should be made a priority to save and convert this beautiful historic building.

By Bixteth Boy