Former Norwich cinema and bingo hall visited by the Rolling Stones set to be demolished

A run-down former city centre cinema and bingo hall in danger of collapsing is to be torn down.

Norwich City Council has approved proposals to demolish the Mecca Bingo building, in All Saints Green.

The news is a second boost to the city centre district in as many weeks, following the go-ahead of plans to renovate Westlegate Tower - an 11-storey tower dubbed one of Norwich's biggest eyesores.

Landowner Telereal Trillium has yet to announce its demolition plans for the Mecca building or what it intends to do with the site, estimated to be worth around �500,000, once the building has been knocked-down.

But the city council has asked the developer for details about how it intends to prevent the area becoming an eyesore.

A separate planning application will have to be submitted and approved before any future building work can take place.

Gary Howe, a city council planning officer, said: 'It will leave a significant gap in the street frontage once removed.

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'There are no plans for the short or medium-term redevelopment of the site - due in part to the need to take the building down for structural reasons - and it would, therefore, be prudent to condition some form of temporary landscaping of the site or the hoarding off the site to prevent it becoming an eyesore or blank frontage within the conservation area.'

Mecca Bingo closed after investigations found major structural problems and the repair bill was considered to be too high.

Twenty-seven people were expected to lose their jobs, although seven were transferred to other Mecca Bingo sites. Customers were offered a free bus service from All Saints Green to the nearest site in Aylsham Road.

Heritage watchdog the Norwich Society said it was not against the building being knocked down, but would not wish the site to become an 'eyesore long-term'.

The council has asked for photographs showing any historic features of the venue to be taken throughout the demolition.

The land is based in an area subject to bombing during the Second World War. This has also led to planning officers asking for a risk assessment/contingency plan to be drawn-up should any unexploded bombs be discovered during the demolition work.

Mr Howe's planning report concluded: 'Whilst the loss of the building is regrettable, it is clear that the structural deficiencies of the building make this proposal necessary.

'The proposed demolition is considered to be acceptable as the building contributes little to the character and appearance of the conservation area.'

The building opened as a cinema in 1932, with the Rolling Stones and Bill Haley and The Comets performing gigs at the venue. It is also said the cinema had a record-breaking run of playing The Sound of Music for 26 weeks. Any future development must display the building's cinematic past to visitors.

What do you think should happen to the site after the demolition? Write to Evening News letters at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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