Former South Shields bingo hall to become flats and coffee shop after planning inspector overrules councillors

The former Mecca Bingo building
The former Mecca Bingo building

A former South Shields bingo hall is set to be turned into flats after a government inspector vetoed South Tyneside planning chiefs.

Developers are now expected to push ahead with plans to transform the vacant Mecca Bingo site at Westoe, after winning their appeal.

In November, the borough’s planning committee rejected their bid to build 43 apartments, four retails units and create 57 parking spaces at the Dean Road venue.

They cited parking and traffic concerns and over-development, and warned of highway safety issues.

But they have now been overruled, and a reduced scheme – for 37 flats, three retail units, a coffee shop and 54 vehicle bays – has been given the green light.

During the latest planning committee meeting, members continued to protest.

Coun Bill Brady said he had visited the site, which sits next to a busy roundabout, and feared the development could cause serious traffic problems.

He said: “Was this inspector looking at the same report as we did? I went and stood at that corner. It’s horrendous. It frightens me what could happen in that place with traffic and parking.”

The site is accessed by a single lane entrance on Dean Road and a similar access point in a back lane on Imeary Street.

Planners have ordered the Dean Road point be widened and the Imeary Street entrance closed.

They also say the car park must be reconfigured, with 21 of the spaces being contained within the building.

The four-storey property, built as a cinema in 1935, closed as a bingo hall in 2014.

It will be turned into 16 studio flats, nine one-bedroomed flats and 12 two bedroomed flats.

Despite the committee’s objections, the council’s own planning officers say the scheme will maximise the re-use of previously developed land and contribute to delivering sustainable communities.

A report found any additional traffic generated could be accommodated within the existing road network.