Flats plan for Walsall's first cinema building and former pub

An historic former Walsall town centre pub which has been closed for five years could be converted into more than 20 apartments.

The Imperial, in Darwall Street, Walsall, which closed in 2016. Photo: J Mason Associates
The Imperial, in Darwall Street, Walsall, which closed in 2016. Photo: J Mason Associates

Lodge Housing Ltd has put forward a proposal to redevelop The Imperial, on Darwall Street, into 21 one-bedroom flats, which is currently being considered by Walsall Council.

In the application, the developers said the scheme would provide high quality, affordable accommodation to the town centre and bring a vacant building back into life.

The landmark was originally built in 1868 as an agricultural hall before it was redeveloped to become St George’s Hall a few years later.

It became The Imperial Theatre in 1899 before it was converted again as the Imperial Picture House – Walsall’s first cinema – in 1908.

When the cinema closed 60 years later, it was turned into a bingo hall and remained so until 1997 when JD Wetherspoon took it over and reopened it as a pub.

The Imperial closed in 2016 and has remained empty since. It was put up for auction and then sold last year.

Lodge Housing said there will be very little amendments to the outside of the 19th century building with the apartments spread over four floors.

'Vibrant'

Planning agents J Mason Associates said: “The site could be viewed as an ideal opportunity to create additional housing, strengthening the local community by making use of a building, which has lay vacant for approximately five years.

“The site and building have been subject to several uses throughout its history, the objective of the proposal is to create a sustainable, well balanced, and most importantly delicate restoration/change of use to the building, ensuring it is maintained for the future.

“This will be achieved by integrating new, carefully considered apartments into the building.

"The proposed scheme will provide new residential accommodation, creating a vibrant addition to the local community.

“The proposed development will play a central role in maintaining the sense of community in the area.

“It will deliver high quality accommodation to the local community, deliver affordable homes to the local community, ensure the building does not fall into disrepair and will act as a high-quality example of well designed, retrofit housing.”

Walsall Council planners are expected to make a decision on the proposal in the summer.

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