Warrington’s iconic Mr Smith’s nightclub has been given a last minute reprieve from demolition after a buyer was found by the building’s owners
The former nightspot and Art Deco cinema had been earmarked for demolition after several years of marketing the property generated limited interest. The owners said their decision to demolish the building, announced in July, was made reluctantly and their advisors, LPC Living, had subsequently met with local campaigners to investigate whether a commercially viable use for the building could be found.
A deal has been now been agreed in principle to sell the property for £1.25m and for it to be transformed into one of the UK’s largest youth clubs. Once completed, the ‘Youth Zone’ is anticipated to cater for 3,000 young people and provide training and volunteer opportunities for the local community.
The deal has been made possible thanks to a £3m funding package from Warrington Borough Council which was agreed in principle at a meeting last night.
The money, which is subject to a final consultation among Warrington’s young people, will be used towards the building’s renovation. In addition, the Club has secured a further £1.5m from local businesses for future running costs. This includes a donation of £150,000 from the Pervaiz Naviede Family Trust to be paid on completion of the deal.
Nick Hopkinson MBE, Chair of Warrington Youth Club said “We are absolutely delighted that the Pervaiz Naviede Family Trust has helped secure the future of this iconic building and remain incredibly positive about the long-term benefits this project will bring to local young people once the Council have completed their due diligence”.
Rudi Falla, spokesman for the Pervaiz Naviede Family Trust, said: “We’d always maintained that the original decision to clear the site was a last resort as we understood how the building held many happy memories for the people of Warrington. However, with renewed interest in the property and the Council’s decision to approve the funding package last night, this now paves the way for its future as a community facility.”
“To show our support for the project the Trust has pledged a donation of £150,000 towards the future running costs of the club, to be paid on completion of the sale, as it complements our long history of supporting community projects”.
It is hoped the new owners will take possession before the end of the year in readiness for renovation works to commence.
Once completed, the building is due to be handed over to Warrington Youth Club. Charity OnSide, which operates five Youth Zones in Manchester, Oldham, Wigan, Carlisle and Blackburn, has been recruited to run the centre.