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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Demolition will prompt new era for site of Carlisle's Lonsdale

A decision to demolish a rotting former cinema will breathe new life into a tired area, it has been claimed.

Halston graphic
How The Halston and Lonsdale House would look

Work on bringing down the iconic Lonsdale Cinema building in Warwick Road, Carlisle, is due to begin on Monday.

The neglected 1930s art-deco structure, which has fallen into disrepair, is to make way for a car park for the new Halston Aparthotel next door.

It was bought at auction in October for £630,00 by Carlisle-based developer Burge Halston.

Company director Simon Harrison said potential investors have shown interest in the Warwick Road area since the decision to demolish the Lonsdale was revealed.

He told the News & Star: “There has been a new flurry of interest which has really rejuvenated the area.

“It has a lot to do with the fact that the site now has a future.

“The big fear [among potential investors and local traders] is that the Lonsdale is an eyesore and the lane alongside it is a bit of a nightmare, especially on dark nights.

“So it has swung from a big negative to a big positive.

“We have spoken to all the traders on the road and they’re all 100 per cent behind the plans.

“They anticipate that if people can park in what will be the first car park into the city centre it will rejuvenate the area.”

The Halston Aparthotel, which replaces the former Post Office building, will feature a 2,000sq ft ground floor retail unit and eight luxury serviced apartments.

It will be linked to the new car park and is due to open in the summer.

Mr Harrison revealed that there has already been a lot of interest in the retail unit, particularly from the bar-restaurant trade.

“Interest in the space is encouraging and it may mean we start on the second phase of the project, which involves building the retail unit, as early as next year.

“We know from history that people have looked at the old Post Office and Lonsdale building and been put off.

“But that road is the best road in the city centre and now the Lonsdale is being removed it will be more open and will transform everything.”

Colin Glover, Carlisle City Council leader, said: “We realised some time ago that there was no option of saving the Lonsdale because it was in such a poor condition and the building has been dragging the area down.

“But since the decision was made to move the area on it has created a confidence and has rejuvenated what is the gateway to the city centre.”

Meanwhile, Mr Harrison also confirmed a plaque would be installed at the site of the Lonsdale to commemorate the building.

As much memorabilia as possible from the former cinema will also be retained and displayed in The Halston.

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