Emerging ideas for the former Mecca Bingo site

In March last year Cabinet agreed broad proposals on the former Mecco Bingo site to deliver a multi-million pound scheme to revitalise the town centre.

The Vicarage Lane project is a proposed mixed use development, delivering quality homes, cultural and performance space, food and drink outlets and workspace to complement the market town’s history and heritage.

This includes the part demolition of the rear of the former bingo hall in the Lower High Street to reveal an uninterrupted view to the iconic Grade I listed St Mary’s Church, while retaining the high street frontage of the building to create a multi-use indoor event space seating around 120 people.

The Government announced in November last year it has rejected an application to list the building. Historic England (HE) considered a request by the Cinema Theatre Association to have the building listed and carried out a full assessment before sending its recommendations to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The Secretary of State has now agreed with the HE’s recommendation not to add it to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest because it fails to meet the relevant criteria.

The council can now move forward with this project. A specialist design team is being assembled and should be in place by the end of the year.

Regenerating the town centre

High streets up and down the country are facing challenging times due to online shopping and the changing way town centres are being used. This means they need to reinvent themselves and what they offer to residents and visitors.

The council is looking to regenerate the town centre so that:

  • it is an attractive and safe place to live and visit, where people feel welcome and have a sense of community and belonging
  • it offers unique and fun experiences for everyone to enjoy in the daytime, evening and at night
  • it is a thriving place that is accessible, easy to navigate and well managed

The former Mecca/Odeon site and the adjacent Vicarage Lane car park presents a unique opportunity to drive forward these objectives which could bring more people to the town centre and provide better facilities for residents.

Proposals by Ash Sakula architects - Odeon Walk and Odeon Square              View of proposed Odeon Square and Odeon Walk by Ash Sakula architects

The council is aware of the interest many local people have expressed in having a theatre, however the potential cost of converting this building added to the fact that former cinemas do not tend to make good theatres, has led us to look at other potential uses for this space.

The emerging proposals for the site by architects Ash Sakula involves:

  • the part-demolition of the main bingo hall to reveal the view to the iconic St Mary’s Church
  • retention of the lower high street frontage with the creation of a spacious new indoor performance space upstairs
  • the creation of a pleasant pedestrian route through the site and a new outdoor performance area/square with a food/drink offer
  • some residential development and the creation of studio workspaces.

Any loss of parking spaces at Vicarage Lane car park would be offset by the proposals to build a multi-storey car park behind the bowling alley on Station Road.

View of Vicarage Field - proposals by Ash Sakula architects              New pedestrian routes - proposal by Ash Sakula architects

View the current proposals

To view the current proposals in more detail, please click on the following links which will open as pdf files.

New public square and focal point [pdf] 10832KB

Public realm and improved access [pdf] 7209KB

Vicarage Lane car park & Vicarage Field [pdf] 7261KB

The council believes the proposed development could help to rejuvenate the town centre, enhance our cultural offer, create employment opportunities and attract inward investment for the benefit of residents.

View the video

A short video has also been produced in order for everyone to try and visualise the current proposals.