The leaseholder of a well-known social club is urging people to ‘use it or lose it’ after the venue was given a stay of execution.
The Neon Social Club in Jarrow could make way for 17 homes and six apartments if trade at the venue doesn’t pick up when it re-opens to the public.
Patrick Cunningham and partner Rachel Allsopp have taken over the building and turned the main hall into a soft play for children aged up to 10.
The function room remains as it is, with a number of parties and events booked.
But concerns were raised with residents and those due to hold their celebrations at the club when it was revealed an application to build houses on the site had been put forward.
The current leaseholder has spend thousands of pounds on improvements and says he was well aware of the plans before he took on the venue.
Mr Cunningham said: “We were already aware the planning application had been started when we took over the place. But it was a surprise when the letters came through the doors, as I thought it had all been sorted.
“But everything is as it was. The parties booked are going ahead and we have three years in which to make this venue a success. If it is, the club will stay. If it’s not, then it will go.”
He added: “We have spent thousands on doing the place up. We have had new ceilings, new lighting.
“I have known Tony Singh for a number of years. He doesn’t buy these types of places to knock them down, it’s not what he’s about. He would rather it stay.
“At the end of the day he is a businessman, but he is giving the venue a chance.
“It’s now up to the people to either use it or lose it. It really is in their hands.”
The couple are currently waiting on final checks to be carried out in the soft play area before they open the doors to the public. Opening times will be from 9am until 6pm or 7pm, depending on demand.
There are also plans to turn the bar area into a kitchen and dining area for families.
Rachel added: “We are still taking bookings for the function room and continue to do so. We want it to work and we have had a lot of interest and people asking when are we opening.
“We are just waiting for the final checks to be done and then we’ll open the doors.”
The venue has been a hub of community life on the Scotch Estate for more than 45 years, and re-opened in 2017 under a new landlord.
Premier Leisure owns the building as well as several venues in South Tyneside – including Armstrong Hall and Hedworth Hall – and bought the Neon eight years ago.