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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Roman remains may lie beneath Carlisle's Lonsdale cinema

Part of a Roman cemetery and town could lie beneath Carlisle’s Lonsdale cinema.

Carlisle Lonsdale cinema photo
Interior of the Lonsdale

The dilapidated building, empty since 2006, is set to be knocked down and turned into luxury serviced apartments and a car park.

Jeremy Parsons, historic environment officer with the county council, has revealed the area is of “some archaeological potential” as part of a consultation with the city council over the proposals.

He said the building “lies on the edge where significant Roman remains are known to survive”.

“Archaeological excavations in the vicinity have identified features below-ground relating to a Roman cemetery and the suburbs of the Roman town,” he said.

“Despite the likelihood that the existing cinema will have had some impact on the remains, there is the potential for archaeological deposits to survive.”

He said there should be some archaeological recording during any demolition and building work, and that a programme of investigation be agreed by the council beforehand.

The owners of the neighbouring Halston – luxury serviced apartments and a separate eating area, currently under construction in the old post office building – bought the Lonsdale at auction.

The council is due to debate the proposal on Friday and officers have recommended it be given the go ahead.

Simon Harrison and Robin Graham have lodged two sets of plans with the city council for the transformation. One is for the demolition of the Lonsdale building, the other for the construction of a new one.

Mr Harrison said that demolition would get underway as soon as possible and the Lonsdale apartments could open in two to five years.

The Warwick Road eyesore, which has been deteriorating rapidly since the cinema closed, will be linked to the new Halston hotel by a first-floor walkway. The new building will be named Lonsdale House, complete with a plaque referencing the cinema, which was built in 1931.

Mr Harrison said the amount of interest shown in the apartments so far gave them confidence they would need more than just those in the old Post Office building “in the next two to five years”.

“The whole area will benefit from this regeneration,” he said.

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