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Campaigners contest heritage decision on Hornchurch’s Mecca Bingo

PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 November 2015

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

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

Archant

Campaigners battling to save the Mecca Bingo Hall building in Hornchurch are vowing to battle on and will appeal a decision not to list the building.

But time could be running out as a Lidl spokeswoman said the supermarket chain was now “reviewing the timescale for demolition” despite Havering Council saying the Article 4 Direction, which prevents the building to be torn apart, will run until its six month order expires.

Hornchurch resident, Joshua Law, who trained as an artist and art historian and now teaches architecture, design and fashion across schools and institutions in east London, does not understand the decision.

“This would not hit home true with me. The building needs to be listed,” he said. “The architectural interest is phenomenal.”

He believes the decision not to list the building was “rushed” within two and a half weeks when up to six months was granted to officers to consider the application.

“The reason we are so adamant is that there is nothing wrong with the building – it’s immaculate,” though he admitted some parts would need “a facelift”.

Mr Law explained the value of the building was its interior and described the gilded ceiling of the main hall as “amazing art deco work all done by hand”.

He rejected a conclusion in the report stating some of the interior had been “significantly altered” and argued “if you look at the scale of the building, the majority of it is still intact”.

A spokeswoman from the Twentieth Century Society, an organisation which safeguards post 1914 British architecture and design, said the society supported the application to highlight “the impeccable intactness of its 1930s interior” and was “very disappointed” by the decision.

Mr Law told the Recorder campaigners did not care what the building became but were only concerned it remained.

They will submit more evidence to contest the decision of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport before the appeal deadline on December 18.

Ellen Owen, business development manager at Havering Museum in Romford, said the museum would consider moving in to save some of the Towers building’s artefacts, depending on their size.

“We don’t like the idea of the building being demolished and if we get to that stage, the museum will try to preserve history and preserve the artefacts,” she said.

“This is a key building for our borough and it is does not matter if there is a lot of 1930s art deco building – heritage is very important and we have lost too many of our buildings that have history.”


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