Flats plan for Luton nightclub site

The Chicago's and Liquid/Envy buildings
The Chicago's and Liquid/Envy buildings

A historic cinema building in Luton town centre, which later became a nightclub, is now set to be turned into flats.

The Chicago’s and Liquid/Envy site is being earmarked for 59 one and two-bedroom apartments under plans submitted to the borough council.

The clubs in Gordon Street closed in May 2015. The proposed development would also include two shops.

The building opened in October 1937, and was then 
used as the Union and Ritz cinemas.

In 1971, the cinema was converted to a bingo hall, and then later to a nightclub.

Initially the applicant considered demolishing the premises and replacing it with 91 flats in a seven-storey building.

But this idea was considered too big by planning officers, who felt it would result in the loss of “a heritage asset in a conservation area”.

A report to councillors says it represents a chance to bring back into use a site, which has been vacant for two years, for much needed housing.

Planners recognise that for a large part of the 20th century the building formed a part of Luton’s social history.

“While the loss of the nightclubs is regrettable, there are no policy grounds to resist this,” adds the report.

“On balance it’s considered that the loss of the nightclub can be justified when weighed against the overwhelming demand for residential accommodation.”

The borough council’s development control committee was being recommended to approve the scheme at a meeting originally scheduled for today (Wednesday).

But the meeting has since been cancelled.