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Lancastria House ‘should be kept entirely’ in Preston Markets cinema plan

Posted on - 31st October, 2016 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, History, News, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Redevelopment
Overhead shot of the refurbished covered market at night, with the cinema building behind

Overhead shot of the refurbished covered market at night, with the cinema building behind showing the Lancastria House frontage

Heritage campaigners have called on architects to re-think their proposals for the new cinema and restaurants complex on Preston Markets.

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Twentieth Century Society have written to planning officers to table their objections to the £50m revamp of the Markets Quarter.

The current indoor market is due to be demolished, along with the Market Hall car park, and the majority of Lancastria House.

But the heritage group say Lancastria House is a ‘dignified building’ and should be kept in its entirety.

Plans from Muse Developments who are co-ordinating the Markets plan explain how the south and eastern art deco frontage of Lancastria House would be kept and incorporated into the new cinema building.

Lancastria House is earmarked for demolition as part of the Markets plan

Lancastria House is earmarked for demolition as part of the Markets plan

But Tess Pinto, a conservation adviser for the London-based organisation, says the ‘bright orange cladding’ will jar with the current Lancastria House building.

The offices block is no longer used by the city council who were forced to move from the building due to concerns about its structural stability and asbestos fears.

Read more: How Preston’s city centre cinema battle played out

Ms Pinto writes: “The application involves the redevelopment of Lancastria House, a 1938 retail building by W.A. Johnson for the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

“We consider that despite alterations, Lancastria House is of architectural and historical significance, and that it should be regarded as a non-designated heritage asset.

“W.A. Johnson was a leading co-operative architect, designing several of their most prestigious emporiums in northern city centres.

“Lancastria House is a dignified building in the art-deco style. Each facade is articulated with bronze, with a strong vertical emphasis accentuated by thick mullions and slender transoms.

“A gently recessed tower rises from both corners of the Lancaster Road frontage. Roaring lion heads are set into the bronze spandrel panels and balconettes of each tower. It is an elegant expression of Preston’s twentieth century heritage.

“We would prefer to see the building retained in its entirety, but as a minimum we urge that the screen cladding is changed from bright orange to a more neutral colour, and that it is significantly reduced in height and stepped back further from the parapet and corner towers.”

The cinema complex itself, which will be run by The Light chain

The orange cladding has drawn criticism from heritage groups

The Market plans include an 11-screen cinema, a number of chain restaurants and a new multi-storey car park facing the Ringway.

City council planning officers have recommended the Markets scheme for approval by its planning committee – with 26 conditions attached.

Addressing the Lancastria House concerns the planning officers write: “it would deliver an overall positive impact on the setting of the surrounding designated heritage assets.”

A city council spokesman said: “Full comments have been sought on the plans, in anticipation of the application being determined by Planning Committee in November.”

Where do you stand on the plans? Let us know in the poll below.


Read more: New Indoor Market under the Covered Market secures planning permission

Work on the city’s Covered Market has already begun, with major restoration work to the canopy of the market – which is a listed structure. The Fish Market canopy has already undergone major work with £400,000 spent on bringing it up to scratch.

Councillors will meet on Thursday 10 November to consider the proposals for the Markets at the planning committee from 1.30pm.

What do you think of the Markets plan? What do you make of the heritage group’s comments? Let us know in the comments below

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