Mecca Bingo battlers’ last fight to stop hall from demolition

Residents are applying to Havering Council to consider the building as a community asset in a last a

Residents are applying to Havering Council to consider the building as a community asset in a last attempt to save the building from demolition - Credit: Archant

In a last “desperate” attempt to save an art deco bingo hall from being torn down, residents are applying for the building to become a community asset – giving them the chance to bid to buy it.

Hayley Johnson, who lives opposite the Mecca Bingo building in High Street, Honchurch, has been leading the campaign to save it from demolition, since it was bought by supermarket giant Lidl in September for just over £8million.

After Historic England refused to list the building, Mrs Johnson started an application to Havering Council for the former Tower Cinema to be considered as a community asset.

“It’s just another desperate try,” she told the Recorder. “But it is an avenue we are going to explore.”

Community asset status can be requested if a building has been in use by the public within three years.

Evidence has to be submitted to demonstrate the local community feels strongly the building fulfils their social interests.

“This is a community asset that has been lost. It will be really sad if the building does come down and I will never shop at Lidl,” Mrs Johnson added.

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“I know a lot of people that are no longer going to the bingo because the one in Barking and Dagenham is too far.

“It was a social venue and a place to meet in the local area.”

Mrs Johnson needs at least 21 residents, registered on the electoral roll, to sign the application and she is confident it will be ready to submit early this week.

Havering Council will then have eight weeks to consider the application and make a decision.

If successful, residents would be able to bid to buy the building and decide how it could be used by the community.

Mrs Johnson admits she does not know how the group would raise the money but said she will explore all possible options, including grants.

The Article 4 Direction, served by Havering Council on the building, is due to expire on April 2, after which Lidl will be able to submit a prior approval application to demolish the building.

Havering Council and Lidl were contacted for comment but did not get back in time for publication.