Mecca Bingo fans lose bid to list Hornchurch’s historic hall

Campaigners demonstrate in front of the Mecca Bingo hall in Hornchurch after Lidl submitted a planni

Campaigners demonstrate in front of the Mecca Bingo hall in Hornchurch after Lidl submitted a planning application to demolish the Tower building - Credit: Archant

The historic Mecca Bingo building in Hornchurch could face demolition after campaigners’ efforts to list the building were shattered.

The application to recognise the 1930s art deco bingo hall, in High Street, as a building of special architectural or historical interest was refused by the Secretary of State Media, Culture and Sport on Friday.

Hayley Johnson, 37, who lives across the street from Mecca Bingo and has led the campaign to save the building said she was still “in a state of shock” from the news.

In September, she made a formal request to Historic England calling for the building to be listed after Lidl put in a planning application to demolish the building.

The saver supermarket chain offered gaming company the Rank Group, which owns the Mecca Bingo chain, “a very good offer” for the site earlier this year.

Mrs Johnson, who had hoped the application would be approved, said she did not understand the refusal.

“We are losing a bit of history and it is going to be so missed,” she said.

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Roy Cary, 81, who was born the year work started to built the former Towers Cinema, owned a bicycle shop next door to the building for 52 years.

“It’s a real shame,” he said, as he remembered the long queues outside the cinema.

“The building is a real asset to the local area. We teach history in schools and this is something from history.”

“I think what they are going to do there is a modern, not particularly good looking, building with no character.”

The decision can be appealed against within 28 days on the basis of proving evidence which was not previously considered.

Lidl will still have to go through the planning application process before tearing down the building after an Article 4 Direction was served by Havering Council last month and remains in place for six months.