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 supermarket, part 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.”
“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.