Developer Stockton Properties has progressed plans to build a 17,500 sq ft retail unit and 93 student beds to replace the former Regal Cinema in the town centre.
The former cinema, which closed in the 1960s and has since been used as a bingo hall and a Tesco, along with a neighbouring building, are due to be cleared, with a mixed-use development planned in its place.
This will reach between three and four storeys in height, and will feature a dual-aspect 17,500 sq ft retail unit fronting Church Street and a car park to the rear; this has been brought forward to “attract a large national anchor tenant to Ormskirk”, according to planning documents.
On the upper floors, there will be 13 studio flats along with 15 student clusters providing a total of 80 beds, all accessed from central corridors, and including shared living areas.
West Lancashire Council’s planning committee is set to give the scheme the nod this week following a recommendation to approve from officers.
Officers said the Regal Cinema had been “significantly compromised by alterations” since its closure, and both the cinema and the neighbouring building were of “limited architectural merit”.
However, the proposals have proved to be controversial with some local residents, with 139 letters of objections put forward.
Comments have focussed on the loss of the art-deco cinema, with objectors arguing the “heritage and charm” of Ormskirk was being “eroded” by the proposals. Others said the proposed building would “dwarf” the surrounding conservation area and “be out of keeping with surrounding buildings” including the nearby grade two-listed parish church.
Other comments have also come forward in support, including from local business owners who have argued the development would help to reverse the “decline” of Ormskirk town centre.
Planning officers said the Regal, “apart from the brick work on the front elevation the building, is unremarkable and has little or no design or architectural features of note,” and have supported its demolition.
West Lancashire’s planning committee will decide on the proposals on 25 July.
Pye Design is the architect; Stockton Properties owns the site.