Campaigners celebrating after council halts demolition of Hornchurch’s Mecca Bingo
PUBLISHED: 07:37 08 October 2015 | UPDATED: 07:37 08 October 2015
A dramatic turn of events has seen the demolition of the Mecca Bingo hall in Hornchurch halted by Havering Council.
An Article 4 Direction has been served on Lidl, which owns the building, meaning the supermarket will need planning permission before tearing down the 81-year-old art deco hall in High Street.
Residents have been campaigning against its demolition since July, with more than 400 people signing a petition, and a Facebook page has been set up to promote their cause.
Hayley Johnson, 37, who lives across the street from Mecca Bingo, has helped lead the protest.
She said: “I don’t want to get my hopes up too much because there is still a chance that it could be knocked down but it is brilliant news.
“This will give us more time to try and do our best to save this beautiful building.”
Historic England received formal requests from both Hayley and the Cinema Theatre Association, asking for the building to be given listed status.
The Article 4 Direction will be in place for six months, giving Historic England time to assess the heritage value and the government’s Department for Media, Culture and Sport will confirm whether or not the building will be listed.
A Historic England spokeswoman said she is aware of the “sensitivities” surrounding the building and assessments of the site are continuing.
Should the supermarket chain still wish to demolish the landmark, which was not previously protected, council officers will be able to consider its heritage value.
Cllr Osman Dervish, cabinet member for regulatory services, said: “We know that many residents had expressed concern about the possibility of this building being demolished after being a feature of the high street for over 80 years.
“That is why we have taken this action to protect it and provide a genuine opportunity to consider its heritage and give enough time for the building to be listed if that’s what Historic England decides to do.”
The building was constructed in 1934 as the Towers Cinema and the exterior and interior have remained largely intact.
More information about planning can be found at havering.gov.uk/planning.