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Revealed: Future plans for former Mercy nightclub

PUBLISHED: 11:59 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:51 06 August 2019

An illustration of what the plans for the former Mercy nightclub, on Prince of Wales Road, could look like. Photo: SMG Architects/Estateducation

An illustration of what the plans for the former Mercy nightclub, on Prince of Wales Road, could look like. Photo: SMG Architects/Estateducation

Archant

Almost 50 homes, a coffee shop and two new floors have been proposed as part of a major new chapter for a prominent city nightclub.

Mercy nightclub in the Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Mercy nightclub in the Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

An application has been lodged with Norwich City Council to overhaul 82 to 88 Prince of Wales Road, the former Mercy nightclub.

It would see the site - which would be known as Regents Place - turned into 49 homes, with new fourth and fifth floors becoming penthouses known as Alexandra Mansions Penthouses.

Mercy pictured in 2003, when it opened. 

Picture: Steve ParsonsMercy pictured in 2003, when it opened. Picture: Steve Parsons

Applicant and developer Estateducation said the names celebrated the building's history.

It would also include a gym, cinema room, pool table room, storage and parking for residents, along with shared office space and a coffee shop on the ground floor.

Papers posted on the council's planning website as part of the application say a bar is "also proposed for ground floor level".

The building has remained empty since Mercy closed down in March last year, after the company behind it went into liquidation.

It was originally built in 1890 as the first block of residential flats in Norwich, with shops on the ground floor.

But in 1923 it was converted to a cinema, with its first film - Prisoner of Zenda - screened on December 3 of that year.

Mercy nightclub in the Norwich.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Mercy nightclub in the Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

It was then the Regent, but was renamed ABC Norwich in 1961, becoming a Cannon cinema in 1986.

In the 1990s it closed, and reopened as Mercy nightclub in 2003.

The projection room at the Regent Cinema in Norwich, which later became Mercy. Pictured in 1961.The projection room at the Regent Cinema in Norwich, which later became Mercy. Pictured in 1961.

In 2018, Code Red Promotions, which ran Mercy, Flaunt, Rocco's restaurant and gentlemen's club Lace, faced a petition to wind up brought by the city council, as it tried to recover £200,000 in unpaid business rates.

One person who lives on St Faiths Lane welcomed the plans, and said they had faced little trouble from Mercy over the years.

Mercy before it opened in 2003. Picture: Nick ButcherMercy before it opened in 2003. Picture: Nick Butcher

They said the area would benefit from having more people living locally, and said their only concern was how parking spaces would be provided.

The application would see 19 car and 44 cycle spaces created, along with 25 jobs - 20 full and five part time.

Preparations ahead of the opening night of Mercy in 2003. Photo: Nick ButcherPreparations ahead of the opening night of Mercy in 2003. Photo: Nick Butcher

The car spaces would be provided through the "undercroft car parking area".

Others living on the lane also welcomed the bid, with one saying they did not want to see it become another nightclub.

Norfolk at the Cinema. Pictured: Children outside the ABC Cinema. Date: 1993. Picture: SuppliedNorfolk at the Cinema. Pictured: Children outside the ABC Cinema. Date: 1993. Picture: Supplied

Online planning statements say: "This area of Norwich, although positioned at an historic entrance to the city, is in desperate need of revitalisation.

"Although it is known that this area is presently the centre of the nightlife scene in the city, there is no reason to not allow this street to fulfil a diverse array of different uses, allowing it to become a positive and reactive reinterpretation of its current use."

The Queen Mother visits the former ABC Cinema in Norwich in 1971. Photo: ArchiveThe Queen Mother visits the former ABC Cinema in Norwich in 1971. Photo: Archive

It also refers to previous complaints over noise from the nightclub, saying that the application would create a "much more neighbourly friendly development than the existing and previous uses of the site".

Just a stone's throw down Prince of Wales Road is Grosvenor House, a former office block which was converted into flats in 2018.

Prince of Wales Road with the ABC Cinema on the left. Pictured in 1985. Photo: ArchivePrince of Wales Road with the ABC Cinema on the left. Pictured in 1985. Photo: Archive

And more homes in the area could be on the horizon, after an office was listed for sale for £1.7m.

Toby Middleton, manager of Mercy nightclub in the Norwich venue.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Toby Middleton, manager of Mercy nightclub in the Norwich venue. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

MORE: Homes could be on horizon as office block goes on sale for £1.7m

An illustration of what the plans for the former Mercy nightclub, on Prince of Wales Road, could look like. Photo: SMG Architects/EstateducationAn illustration of what the plans for the former Mercy nightclub, on Prince of Wales Road, could look like. Photo: SMG Architects/Estateducation

'It was iconic'

Toby Middleton worked as the club's manager from 2003 until 2016, and described the former venue as "iconic".

He said Mercy had left a significant legacy, through both the memories created there or the former members of staff who had gone on to run their own ventures.

"Whichever way you look at it, for the team it was a risk and it could have failed," he said. "But it became the most trend-setting nightclub in the whole of the south east of England.
"There was always a battle, but it was brilliant. It was amazing."

And in a display of how dedicated he was to the venue - which was owned by the Peri family - he said he actually got married there several years ago.

"Everyone said it would be rubbish, it would be bad," he said, "but we turned it into this marquee inside and we totally transformed it. It was brilliant."

- What are your memories of Norwich? Leave them in the comments below, or email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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