Plans to demolish former Mecca Bingo building in Hornchurch have been approved
PUBLISHED: 21:04 25 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:45 26 August 2016
Plans to tear down a historic art deco building and much-loved former bingo hall have been approved by a council committee tonight.
A planning application submitted by budget supermarket chain Lidl to demolish the former Mecca Bingo, High Street, Hornchurch, has been approved by councillors during the regulatory services committee meeting.
Residents, who have been actively campaigning for more than a year to save the building are “devastated” by the committee’s decision.
The site, which was bought by Lidl last year for just over £8million, is set to become a new discount supermarket.
The vote was carried out with seven councillors voting in favour of the plans, one voting against the application and three abstaining.
This comes after more than 340 residents signed a petition calling for the building to be preserved.
Everyman cinema had also expressed an interest in the site and a formal letter from the chain was presented to the committee tonight.
Hayley Johnson, who has been leading the campaign to save the building since last summer, said: “I am gutted. All of Hornchurch was behind us to save the building but it was not enough.
“I thought they would defer the decision to allow Everyman cinema to put in an application.”
Sheila Clements said she felt “angry” about the decision and added she will explore all avenues to try and appeal the decision.
Carol Chamberlain and Marlan, 7, of Hornchurch, arrived early at Havering Town Hall tonight with a banner to protest against Lidl’s plans.
“I am devastated. Marlan just wanted it to be a cinema. He was excited about going to matinees.
“We didn’t think that it will happen tonight.
“We don’t want a supermarket. Everywhere you look, within a few miles there is another one,” said Mrs Chamberlain.
John Brown added: “Hornchurch is going to lose a valuable icon – one that was used during the Second World War.
“I remember going to the cinema when it was an Odeon, then it became a Mecca Bingo and the facade was preserved.”
Councillors previously called on Lidl to preserve the facade of the building but the supermarket chain pledged to keep only the lettering “Towers”.
Earlier this week, residents took to social media to express their disappointment about what the new shop in High Street will look like after receiving the artist impression of the store.
Lidl has called for a public meeting to be called on August 31 from 5pm to 8pm at the North Street Hall, North Street, Hornchurch.
More to follow on the Recorder’s website.
Video credit Mike Jones, see his website here.