LIDL at the Abbey -
the controversy continues
In the last Newsletter, we invited members to let us have their views on Lidl's plans for the Abbey Cinema site. Sadly, only 9 responses were received - 3 of which were from non-members. Of the 9 respondents, 6 were in favour of demolition of the existing building - describing it as "that carbuncle", "an eyesore", "extremely ugly", "quite ugly", "a dull building with a mausoleum like presence", and "a shell of a building". The 3 who advocated retention called it "a very attractive landmark", "a solid structure" and "this iconic building". Bearing in mind that our Newsletter was delivered to over 300 households - and many more will have read the "LIDL at the Abbey - tell us what you think" article on our website - we still have no clear idea of what our members would like to see happen. Furthermore the Society's Committee is also split on the issue. The only thing that almost everyone seems to agree on is that Wavertree needs a supermarket on this site.Please forward your views to any Committee member, or email us
Meanwhile, Lidl have withdrawn the planning application which they submitted in April, and which included images such as the one reproduced in our last Newsletter. This withdrawal was not a consequence of their own consultation exercise - the results of which have not as yet been published. It was because, on 19th April, the former cinema building was Listed by the government, on the advice of Historic England. Contrary to rumours circulating on social media and elsewhere, the application for Listing had not been submitted (or even explicitly supported) by the Wavertree Society. The organisation which made the case for preservation of the building was - as stated in our last Newsletter - SAVE Britain's Heritage. Historic England reviewed the evidence they had submitted, and concluded that the Abbey is "a good, and increasingly rare, example of a medium-scale 1930s 'super cinema' … an imposing building with a Moderne design that references continental cinema design and uses elegant brickwork treatment combined with a bold composition to maximum effect".
Ever since the Wavertree Society was formed, over 40 years ago, one of our main aims has been to publicise local planning proposals, so as to ensure that everyone has a chance to voice their opinions. The Wavertree Society does not make planning decisions, but we aim to ensure that correct procedures are followed and the full facts are made available before decisions are made by the City Council.
In the case of the former Abbey Cinema, the fact that it's now a Listed Building doesn't mean that it MUST be preserved. What it does mean is that evidence must be presented, explaining why its retention or adaptation is not feasible, before listed building consent for demolition is granted. The Structural Report which Lidl have published does not conclude that the building is "beyond economic repair"; it merely recommends that "serious consideration is given to demolition of the existing building ... given the extent of the work necessary to the existing structure".
We remain in contact with Lidl, and continue to believe that they will - as they previously promised - "find a workable and viable future solution". Once again, we encourage Society members (and others) to send their opinions and ideas to us, as well as to Lidl GB and local councillors.