Plans to demolish Rileys snooker hall for housing approved by Stevenage Borough Council
- Credit: Archant
Councillors approved plans to demolish the Rileys bar and snooker hall in Stevenage last night (Wednesday) and turn it into housing.
Stevenage Borough Council’s planning and development committee met to consider an application, submitted by developer Churchill Retirement Living, to demolish the 1930s building and replace it with 11 two-bedroom apartments and 27 one-bedroom sheltered housing apartments.
The building originally opened as the Astonia Cinema in the 1930s before becoming a bingo hall and eventually a snooker club.
Hugh Madgin, author of historical book Stevenage Through Time, made a statement at the meeting asking that the building be allowed to remain.
He said: “This is one of only three 1930s cinemas in Hertfordshire that are still standing, the other two being The Rex in Berkhamstead and The Odyssey Cinema in St Albans – both of which have been restored to their former glory and remain popular arts installations in their respective towns.
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“I think this is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Stevenage and one that should not be ignored. How wonderful would it be to give this building its much-needed restoration and give young people in the area somewhere to express themselves?”
Mr Madgin claimed a local arts group, which could not be named, was interested in purchasing the building with the intention of turning it into a theatre.
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Commenting on the application, Cllr Michelle Gardner said: “I think it’s sad we’ve got to the point where every single bit of available land has to be used for housing. Where is this going to end if we just keep throwing everything away in the name of more housing?
“Aside from the fact that I support theatre groups and more arts facilities for our residents, I think the main issue has been somewhat overlooked here. It is my understanding that we don’t need more housing in Stevenage but more social housing. This is for elderly residents and is only going to give us more people, who already own homes, selling to other people who already own homes.”
The application was put to a vote and passed with seven councillors in favour and four against.
A spokesman for Churchill Retirement Living, which hope to begin work “as soon as possible”, said: “We have listened to local people and have shown a committment to providing a development which is of the highest quality. We are very pleased that councillors and local people supported our latest planning application so that we can start construction soon and bring much needed housing for older people in Stevenage.”