Crumbling ABC cinema in Wakefield could finally be redeveloped

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Plans to knock down a former cinema that has been closed for more than 15 years to make way for homes and shops look set to move a step nearer.

An outline planning application by developers PS & S Ltd for eight flats, six houses and two shops at the former ABC Cinema, on Kirkgate, is recommended for approval at a planning meeting next week.

A previous scheme at the site would have seen the cinema replaced with 119 flats, eight shops and a rooftop garden. But, despite Wakefield Council granting approval in 2009, work never started and the planning permission has now expired.

The new designs pay homage to the original art deco design of the old cinema and include a ‘film strip’ feature front.

Neil Bowen, director at Neil Bowen Architects Ltd, said: “The previous proposals were very ambitious and required a lot of people to fill the properties and would have been expensive to build.

“Ours is less than half the size of those schemes and because ours is an unusual building, it preserves the heritage of the site.

“We feel that if this development is built it could become a landmark on that road, just like the cinema used to be.”

Wakefield Civic Society president Kevin Trickett said the group welcomed the proposed development and attempts to reflect some of the art deco design of the cinema building.

He said: “Some people have called for the cinema to be restored but I think it is past saving.

“It has fallen into such a bad state of repair and people may wish for these kind of things but unless you’ve got the money to back it up, it can’t happen.

“While we support the scheme in principle, we don’t like the colour of the front. For such a prominent site, we think it should be lighter or darker. This is only an outline application though so there well be some changes to it.”