Plans to demolish one of the last remaining Art Deco buildings in Bacup have been approved by the council.

The Regal Cinema and Bingo Hall has been derelict since the turn of the century, with various applications to transform the building falling by the wayside.

In April, B&E Boys, based in Waterfoot, which purchased the building in 2009, applied to demolish the former cinema and bingo hall, and part demolish the adjoining snooker hall and rear of a property in Burnley Road.

In its place, the construction firm said they would erect a new two-storey building with extensions, to provide five modern commercial units named the Bacup Technology Hub.

Historic England said the loss of the building would damage the town’s conservation area but retaining it as it is would be a very costly exercise and was not financially viable.

No objections were received from Lancashire County Council’s highways department, Cadent Gas, United Utilities or the Environment Agency in respect of the plans.

Rossendale Civic Trust did however object, and one other public objection was lodged with the council.

Two letters of support were received with one supporting comment stating: “Would prefer to see the existing facade retained, but this is a good solution.”

A report to the planning committee read: “It is considered, on balance, that the public benefits of demolishing of the former Regal Cinema and a section of the snooker hall, namely the economic boost to the local high-street, the support provided to the growth and development of small scale local businesses, the provision of much needed employment and the contribution the development will make to the regeneration of Bacup town centre, would deliver sustainable development and the removal of a building having a negative impact on the area, would outweigh the less than substantial harm resulting from the loss of the non-designated heritage asset in this case.”

READ MORE: In Pictures: Memories of derelict Bacup Regal Cinema

Both of the buildings – the cinema and snooker hall – have been in a state of disrepair for some time and in need of regeneration to enhance Bacup.

In 2014 community leaders called for improvements to be made to the Regal Cinema with members of Bacup Pride and Bacup Natural History Society labelling the disused building as an ‘eyesore’.

In 2005, London businessman Ahmed Khashaba bought the building at an auction, but disposed of it in 2007 following a critical television documentary into the acquisition.

B&E Boys lodged a planning application in 2009 to demolish part of the cinema, but it was refused by Rossendale Council on the grounds it would ‘be harmful to the character and appearance’ of the Bacup Town Centre Conservation Area.

In 2020 a second bid was made to restore the run-down cinema building following the town being granted more than £1 million in funding as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ).

Since then, applications have been made in relation to a façade retention scheme, but the costs spiralled, and Historic England said it would not fund a demolition.

There was also talk of Calico Homes contributing funds for a residential scheme, but these also failed to materialise.

Between December 2021 and April 2022, a proposed employment scheme was developed with the property owner; this iteration did not include the facade retention and in April 2022 a pre-application was lodged with Rossendale Council.

A planning statement submitted alongside the application read: “The front elevation dominates the surrounding architecture due to its scale and iconic decorative Art Deco features.

“Over the years it has changed its use but has recently been left vacant falling into a very poor condition externally and internally.

“Due to its condition it is having a negative impact on the towns aesthetic.

“The site however, if given a suitable purpose, has the potential to have great impact on the revival of the local high street.

“The proposal will aspire to reinvigorate the high street with independent manufacturers and creative workshops and create an interactive environment.

“The spaces would be let individually but together form a social multi-purpose space in which to collaborate in design, manufacture and sales of independent bespoke products.

“Each unit has a mezzanine level accessed via individual staircases. These units can be kitted out fit for purpose requirements by the businesses. The snooker hall will have an additional entrance from Maitland Street and Market Street.”