Islington Mecca Bingo Site at Risk

A former bingo club in Islington has been put on the ‘at risk’ register by English Heritage as, despite several promises, no work has been carried out in it during the last 3 years where it has stood empty.

The building is Grade II listed and used to be a Mecca Bingo club until it was closed in March 2007. It is currently owned by Evangelical Church Resurrection Manifestations who had promised to restore the historic building to its former glory. They blame Islington Council for the lack of work, saying they are dragging their heels over granting planning permission.

English Heritage grew concerned over the building and took the decision to place it on the register. Nigel Barker, the acting regional director for London said; ‘Something has got to happen. This is a very important building and certainly one of the greatest assets in the area. The building has been empty for some years and it’s deteriorating – particularly the interior. When the church first came up with their approach we were reasonably comfortable because they said they would let the community in and because the building wasn’t going to require many alterations. But we have had no clarity yet as to when they are going to do something and what the delay is. All we know is that there is no clear way forward.’ It has been suggested by English Heritage that if no work takes place the council may force the church to sell the building.

The building started life in September 1930 as Carlton Cinema. In 1972 it closed as a cinema and then re-opened as a bingo club. Mecca decided to close the club just before the smoking ban took place and the Christian group bought the building 6 months later, in September 2007, reportedly for $5million.

The company had big plans for the building – as well as returning it to it’s former glory they were going to include a conference centre, church and community venue. Behind the building they would erect a seven storey block of 44 flats. The total cost of the project was said to be approximately £18 million.

Islington Council granted permission regarding the conversion of the bingo club to a community venue and church but was still debating the block of flats, which the owner said was needed to fund the other works. However, there was an almost 2 year gap before the application was filed, so blame for the delay is down to both groups.

A spokesperson for the company commented: “We could go in tomorrow and convert it into a church. We have got enough funds for that. But we need the flats to fund the community project. By the council’s own rules, there is a time limit by which they have to give us a response. It’s gone way over that. It’s now going to an appeal hearing. The building has been lying derelict all this time. We are eager to put it to use.”

Owned by the Rank Group, Mecca Bingo is one of the largest UK bingo clubs. There are over 100 Mecca Bingo Clubs in the UK, which collectively has nearly 1 million club members on the books. Mecca Bingo’s owners additionally own and operate Rank Interactive, the Internet bingo site for Mecca Bingo, Grosvenor Casinos – a popular casino chain in Great Britain, and Spanish Casino chain Top Rank España.

Related bingo news:

  1. Mecca Bingo Club Converted to Supermarket
  2. Mecca Bingo Club Hosts Charity Event
  3. Controversial plans for Bingo Club dropped
  4. Bingo club may become cinema
  5. Mecca Bingo Launches New Land based game.