Prestonians are calling for the front of the former Odeon cinema and Evoque nightclub to be saved.Advertisement
After the fire at the Church Street building in May, and subsequent demolition at the rear of the site, a planning application has been submitted to demolish the facade.
The Planning Statement submitted to Preston City Council says: “The existing buildings in their current condition following the recent fire, do not positively contribute to the locale.
“Due to the significant damage to the buildings, they are beyond the point of conversion and therefore need to be demolished for both functional and safety reasons.”
Read more: Odeon and Evoque fire update given by Preston City Council
However many locals believe the Art Deco facade should be saved in order to reduce any environmental impact and preserve what they say is a much loved and iconic landmark.
They say that claims the facade is structurally unsound need to be independently verified.
A spokesperson for one group of residents, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The building is the last remaining cinema in central Preston of significant stature marking the ‘golden age’ of Preston’s cinema and theatrical era.
“Drone footage and photographs taken since the fire clearly show the facade and foyer section of the building intact.
“If the facade is indeed unsound, surely it should have been demolished earlier or at the very least, the pavement fenced off and buildings either side of the building vacated.”
The residents objecting to the plans point to examples of similar situations, including in Harrow where an Art Deco cinema front is being incorporated into a new residential development.
Steve Harrison from the Friends of Winckley Square says there is another example in Preston City Centre.
“When the forthcoming cinema complex next to the covered market was first planned, it involved the demolition of another Art Deco building, Lancastria House,” said Steve.
“Campaigners were successful in challenging the planned demolition. The footprint for the new complex was reduced in 2019, and Lancastria House saved.”
Steve added: “Another splendid example of where the facade was saved during a major redevelopment is above the Primark store front, where you will see evidence of a fine Georgian House dating from c1802.”
Steve says he believes retaining the facade of a building helps people picture an area as it was.
He said: “This kind of preservation has been achieved successfully across the UK and Europe. Significant structures retained, in part or whole, provide evidence of the evolution of towns and cities.
“Preston has lost a great deal. It is important not to lose more without compelling reasons.”
The planning application (06/2022/0663) can be viewed via the Preston City Council website. It can be commented on there or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org until Sunday 10 July
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