Plans to demolish historic Cambridge cinema submitted

The former cinema and bingo hall on Hobson Street
-Credit: (Image: CambridgeshireLive)

Plans to demolish a former cinema building in Cambridge and replace it with offices and shops have been submitted. The planning application to demolish the Hobson Street cinema was validated on April 25.

The 21 Hobson Street building has been empty since 2009 after plans for it to be turned into a nightclub were dismissed. During a consultation period in 2023, Cambridge locals told CambridgeshireLive they were concerned about the loss of the Art Deco building.

If approved, the plans would see the existing buildings between Hobson Street and Sidney Street demolished, leaving only the façades of 16, 17, 18, and 19 Sidney Street. The buildings would be replaced with retail units, offices, and community space.

A heritage impact assessment submitted as part of the planning application said of the former cinema building: "Most of its heritage interest lies in the architectural expression of the main façade, the interior has been subject to much change. There is also some historic interest in the novel building type for dedicated leisure use and would have communal value."

The assessment said the former cinema building was of 'low' value as a heritage asset, but that its Art Deco façade and history as a leisure facility contributed positively to the 'historic townscape'. It said the poor condition of the roofscape and lengthy vacancy detracted from its value.

Hobson's Passage would be redeveloped to make it more attractive
Hobson's Passage would be redeveloped to make it more attractive -Credit:CambridgeshireLive

A public realm strategy document said Hobson's Passage, which connects Hobson Street and Sidney Street, is "plagued by a range of highways, safety, antisocial behaviour and environmental health issues". It added that the proposals are intended to transform the passageway into "a high quality urban lane", like St Edward's Passage or Rose Crescent.

A townscape and visual impact assessment concluded that the proposed development would deliver 'transformational' positive change to the site, particularly on Hobson Street. It said: "The changes would introduce a high-quality development which would improve the local townscape character and local views from the adjacent streets and would have negligible impact on the townscape character of the wider city centre and Conservation Area."

You can see the full planning application here.