City eyesore gets its big break

Cityblock 4 - front
Cityblock 4 - front

Plans to demolish a Lancaster pool hall and replace it with a new student block are on the table as part of an ongoing revamp of the city centre.

If proposals by Cityblock boss Trevor Bargh are given the go-ahead, Squire’s Snooker, Pool and Sports Bar in Penny Street will be knocked down and turned into five-storey student accommodation with a major retailer on the ground floor.

The former Squires Snooker & Sports Bar on Penny Street in Lancaster

The former Squires Snooker & Sports Bar on Penny Street in Lancaster

The building, which has seen better days, has had a number of uses over the years including a carpet shop, car showroom, petrol station and snooker hall.

But Mr Bargh said the “horrible” building had to be demolished to improve the look of one of the major gateways to the city, and provide much needed high quality student accommodation in the city centre.

The building, currently owned by Thwaites, sits opposite Mr Bargh’s Cityblock 3, which opened in 2012 using the existing facade of what was Victoria Court.

He said: “I’ve been trying to acquire the site since 2006.

“First of all it’s got to be demolished, it’s a horrible building.

“We’ve looked at a number of designs, but the scope has not been too wide, and it reflects a contemporary design favoured by students and has a ‘barcode’ design on the front.”

Squires moved out of the building over Christmas, and has now re-opened in the former Rileys Pool Hall in Church Street. Squires boss Mick Hoyle said: “There’s a lot of history in that building.

“It goes back quite a few generations.

“It’s sad to go, but this is a new year and a new start.”

The plans include student accommodation on the first, second and third floor divided into two cluster flats, one containing eleven en-suite bedrooms and the other containing nine, both will communal living and kitchen space.

The first floor will also include an internal open air courtyard, and the fifth floor is planned as studio apartments.

An initial curved design on the city centre side of the building had to be abandoned as it was unclear who owns the small plot of land.

The plans are now to landscape this area.

Mr Bargh added: “This is quite a small development with 70 rooms. It feels better and it feels right for the site.

“It’s not just a case of saying ‘it’s better than what’s there now’, it’s about getting it right for the city in the long term.”