The end for the Oak and former Regal?

Lianne and Elizabeth, pictured with East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani, will be helping people living with sight loss across Lanarkshire.
Lianne and Elizabeth, pictured with East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani, will be helping people living with sight loss across Lanarkshire.

Lanark’s former Royal Oak Hotel and Regal Cinema, once popular town centre places of entertainment but now eyesores, could soon face demolition.

Another well-kent but shabby building, the now vacant DIY, toys and general goods shop in the centre of the High Street, might soon be gone too to form a new ‘Wide Close’ to and from Tesco’s in the North Vennel.

While these old landmarks of the Royal Burgh will be largely removed, there could be an addition to the town centre with a new dedicated site for a regular farmers’ market.

All this depends on whether or not Lanark Community Development Trust and South Lanarkshire Council are successful in an application to the new Scottish Government town centre improvement fund which invites bids for ‘off-the-shelf’ improvement projects costing at least £50,000 with a tight application deadline of the end of this month.

It has been known for some time that the Development Trust had plans in place for the former Royal Oak Hotel, vacant for a decade now, and the nearby 1936-vintage Regal Cinema, vacated more recently after 40 years as The Vogue Bingo Club.

The Gazette understands it has been decided that the Victorian-era hotel is past saving and will have to be entirely demolished to be replaced by a new block of flats. There had been a planning permission granted some years ago for the upper floors to be converted to flats while the ground floor bar re-opened while retaining the once-grand exterior but this scheme came to nothing.

Now ‘The Oak’, once two separate hotels serving the adjacent railway station during Lanark’s pre-World War One tourism boom, could soon disappear from Bannatyne Street after more than a century.

Although ‘younger’, the former cinema/bingo club across the road is judged to be the more important building from an historic and architectural point of view.

It is thought the current classic art deco frontage will be retained or replicated, with new flats behind it. The site for the farmers market has yet to be chosen.