South Shields flats and shops plan set for go-ahead

The Former Mecca Bingo Hall
The Former Mecca Bingo Hall

Plans to turn a landmark former cinema and bingo hall into flats and shops are being recommended for approval.

South Tyneside Council’s planning committee are being advised to give the go ahead to the conversion of the four-storey Mecca Bingo building, in Dean Road, South Shields.

Planning officer Christine Matten says the plan - for 43 flats and four shops - is a reduction on a previous scheme which was for 56 homes and five business units.

Ten people wrote letters objecting to the conversion including residents of both Dean Road and Imeary Street.

They complained of various issues including parking pressure, loss of privacy and noise disturbance during construction.

The Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for North of England is also opposing the plan.

The cadets use the neighbouring Londonderry Hall and fear their training exercises and rifle range would lead to complaints from future residents.

The council’s road safety team also raised concerns about how residents’ parking - of which there would be 58 spaces - would be enforced and queried the lack of parking for visitors to the four businesses.

The team says in a report: “It is considered that overall this proposal is over developed, and a lesser scheme would fit in easier.”

The applicant, Dennis Harley Developments, said residents would be encouraged to use public transport rather than having their own cars.

Ms Matten said the conversion is “appropriate”, access to the site would be improved and the plan complies with policy.

One objector said: “Parking is a major issue in this location with a busy roundabout, bus stop and illegal parking of vehicles along Dean Road. Retail units will add to this problem.”

Another said the roads would struggle to cope with the extra traffic generated by both the residents of the flats and visitors to the businesses.

Ms Matten said the proposed mix of shops, studio apartments and one and two-bedroomed flats would provide an “appropriate new use for this substantial building”.

The building was first opened on October 21 1935 as the Regent Cinema – at the time, The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Leslie Howard was showing.

On May 24, 1943, a 500kg German bomb fell on Dean Road causing damage to the cinema and nearby houses.

After being repaired, the cinema ran until 1966 when it was then transformed into the Mecca Bingo.

The bingo hall closed in September 2014.

The planning meeting starts at 10am at Jarrow Town Hall on Monday, 31 October.