The Astoria Theatre on Gloucester Place plans for change of use
The Astoria Theatre on Gloucester Place looks set for a change of use. The former cinema built in 1933 is a Grade II listed Art Deco style building that was built for a local entertainment, it was the first and most important Astoria built outside London. It enjoyed a period of success in the 1950s and 1960s before rapid decline which led to its closure in 1977. About 20 years of use as a bingo hall followed, but it has stood empty since the late 20th century.
It has now reported to have been sold to a student housing developer, the bids at auction were believed to be more than 7.5million! Over the years, the building has been sold on to several developers but unfortunately, it has remained disused despite several plans to refurbish the building and planning applications for change of use being submitted.
It is now expected to finally undergo redevelopment into student housing, after more than 20 years of standing vacant. Whether this will go down the same route as the new Aparto student buildings currently in progress on Lewes Road, which focus on high-end, studios with communal living spaces or whether it becomes self-contained flats or bedsits is yet to be seen. Due to the age of the building and materials involved including asbestos, it is assumed the building will have to have works completed beyond the traditional allowances of listed buildings, there will most likely be quite a few hoops to jump through with building controll throughout the renevation.
There are mixed feelings regarding the possibility of new students moving into Gloucester Place, current residents in the area are concerned that there will be increased noise levels and excessive rubbish. However, local property experts see it as a positive move, as it will finally put to use this derelict building and create more student accommodation in a city where the caps on HMO’s are making it difficult for students to find suitable accommodation.
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