Press release: SAVE calls on Liverpool City Council to act on recommendations of independent report and retain the historic façade of the Futurist Cinema

29 April 2016

Press release: SAVE calls on Liverpool City Council to act on recommendations of independent report and retain the historic façade of the Futurist Cinema

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has submitted an urgent report to Liverpool City Council challenging the imminent demolition plans proposed to the building’s historic façade.

In agreement with the Council, we commissioned The Morton Partnership, independent structural engineers who specialise in historic buildings, to inspect the main elevation of the Futurist cinema.  

The report by Ed Morton, director of the Morton Partnership (see below), sets out a clear strategy for propping up and retaining the façade. Ed Morton states that having studied the original plans and visited inside the building, “It is possible to introduce a scheme of temporary works in the form of a steel frame to provide temporary restraint to the elevation” and that in his opinion “it should be perfectly possible to retain the front elevation of the building and incorporate it into a new scheme”.

Ed Morton also adds that after close inspection of the front façade, and from examination of previous reports, that the terracotta tiles do not appear to be coming away from the main wall, and that if this was the case, then conservation treatments could be used to stabilize them.

The report acknowledges the vulnerability of the top pediment section of the façade.  If this small section is dismantled it should be carefully recorded and the tiles conserved. He recommends that this work should be kept to a minimum, and that any further demolition is not necessary.

Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE said: “This report is encouraging news – it shows that the vast majority of the historic façade can be stabilized and retained, and that any drastic demolition is not necessary. We are calling on the Council to act on the report recommendations without delay.”

Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE said: “The Futurist has the grandest frontage of any surviving pre 1st World War cinema.  Dating from 1912 it is a landmark of cinema history and testimony to a golden age in Liverpool.  The Electric Palace in Harwich, dating from 1911, has been saved and restored.  Surely a great city like Liverpool can do the same.” 

SAVE is challenging the recent planning permission for the demolition and redevelopment of the historic Futurist cinema and the terrace of 18th and 19th century buildings which it sits within. The Council's own structural survey that was submitted with the planning application just one year ago states that the facade of the building is in reasonable condition.

The Futurist Cinema is a much loved Liverpool landmark: it is the city’s first purpose built cinema and one of a diminishing number of pre-WWI movie theatres in the UK. It was constructed in 1912 by renowned theatre architects Chadwick and Watson. It has a highly decorative façade of faience tiles.

SAVE has appealed to the Court of Appeal seeking a judicial review of the case and we are currently awaiting a date in court. No development works on the site in connection with the planning permission are permitted until the Court of Appeal case has been decided.

SAVE recognises the need to improve the area, but strongly condemns these plans to demolish rather than repair, and the deliberate neglect over many years of publicly owned heritage assets that should have been maintained under full repairing leases.

Note to editors:

1. For more information please contact Henrietta Billings, Director at SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or

2. The appeal relates to Liverpool City Council (‘LCC’) and Neptune Developments’ proposals to demolish more than ten buildings on Liverpool Lime Street, which is located in the World Heritage Site Buffer Zone.

SAVE considers that insufficient consultation took place before the Council determined the future of Liverpool’s gateway street from which the famous railway station takes its name.

SAVE also considers that the issue of how LCC consults with the UK’s World Heritage Committee and DCMS is crucial in order to protect Liverpool’s World Heritage Site in the future. This also has wider importance for other World Heritage Sites in England and Wales. The current system of consultation is not clear and is not achieving the necessary level of protection.

3. To support SAVE’s campaign please donate here:

4. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage

70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

Registered Charity 269129

Tel. 020 7253 3500  Email

Follow SAVE on Twitter: @SAVEBrit

Donate to SAVE via Justgiving

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