Hornchurch bingo hall’s demolition and Parsonage Farm Primary School expansion deferred

Parents outside Parsonage Farm school in Rainham last year opposing expansion plans

Parents outside Parsonage Farm school in Rainham last year opposing expansion plans - Credit: Archant

Controversial plans to knock down a historic bingo hall and expand a school have been deferred by a council committee last night.

Mecca Bingo, High Street, Hornchurch

Mecca Bingo, High Street, Hornchurch - Credit: Archant

An application to demolish the Mecca Bingo Hall in Hornchurch has been deferred after residents spent months campaigning to save the building.

The application, submitted by budget supermarket chain Lidl, did not include any plans for redevelopment.

Some councillors argued the supermarket would be beneficial for Hornchurch’s High Street but others called for the facade of the building to be preserved.

Councillors at the regulatory committee meeting called for more detailed plans to be submitted and urged for the front of the 1930s Tower Cinema to be incorporated into Lidl’s vision for the site.

But Cllr Steven Kelly warned the art deco building needed to be regenerated or it would remain empty and decay.

“There is a desire to preserve everything and anything but Hornchurch desperately needs a shopping centre,” he added.

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Hayley Johnson, who has been heading the campaign to save the building since July last year, said she was positive about the decision.

Ms Johnson told the Recorder being in the process of contacting the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund in a bid to get financial backing for the building to be run by the community.

“None of us want to see the building empty and we want to show them at the next meeting how we plan to fund the project,” she said.

Plans to expand Parsonage Farm Primary School, Farm Road, Rainham, from three to four forms of entry have also been deferred.

The application came a year after councillors refused a nearly identical request.

A kitchen extension and the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which would make it illegal for parents to park or drop-off children outside the school and is scheduled to come into effect in September, were added to the application.

But councillors argued the plans did not include any enlargement of the dinning room and it was too early stage to allow for the expansion to take place as the impact of the PSPO has not yet been seen.

Cllr Reg Whitney said: “This is not the way to expand the school, where the pupils are herded in like sheep and gulping down their dinner to let other pupils have their lunch.”

Cllr David Durant called for nearby schools to be considered for expansion.

“Brady Primary is next to Chafford Academy which sits on a big piece of land.

“It is presently a one form entry and the Chafford headteacher has said he is happy to cooperate with an expansion of Brady to two form of entries. As is the new Harris Academy that wants to take over Chafford. Council Officers have said they will consider this in the future,” he said.