Stevenage regeneration: Mecca Bingo not formally contacted over plan which will see it flattened

Mecca Bingo, off Danestrete in Stevenage. Picture: Daniel Wilson

Mecca Bingo, off Danestrete in Stevenage. Picture: Daniel Wilson

Daniel Wilson

The owners of Stevenage’s Mecca Bingo hall – which will have to be knocked down to make way for a scheme to regenerate the town centre – have not yet been formally contacted despite the £350 million plans for SG1 having been unveiled to the public.

Last Tuesday, Stevenage Borough Council and international developers Mace – who built The Shard in London – formally unveiled their ambitious plans to create 600 new homes, boulevards, town squares, and a public service hub including a library, health services and council offices on top of the current council offices, plaza and bus station area of town.

But while 90 per cent of the land needed for SG1 is owned by the council and its public sector partners, the town’s Mecca Bingo hall is privately owned by parent company Rank Group.

When the Comet approached the company on Friday, a spokesman for the firm said it was aware of the regeneration scheme but had not been contacted by the council about it.

Asked whether it would consider being accommodated within the SG1 scheme, the firm said that until it has been contacted about the matter it cannot comment further.

The town’s MP, Stephen McPartland, has also raised questions about the ownership of some of the land needed for SG1. He says the council might have to compulsorily purchase some of the buildings needed.

The council’s chief executive Scott Crudgington, however, told the Comet that the council and developers are in discussions with all the landowners in the SG1 area – and that compulsory purchase would only be a last resort.

The Danestrete health centre and the Southgate sexual health clinic will also have to be moved to accommodate SG1.

Mr McPartland has raised concerns about this on his website, criticising the council for potentially moving the facilities.

He said: “Two of our local NHS facilities could be compulsory-purchased by Stevenage Borough Council on behalf of the developers. I am sure Jeremy Corbyn is very proud.”

A spokesman for the NHS trust which owns the Danestrete centre said it is working with the council on the regeneration plan, and that its facilities will move into the new SG1 hub.

However, a spokesman for the trust which runs the Southgate sexual health clinic said that while it was in discussions with partners about the best way to accommodate its facilities, these plans did not currently involve the centre moving.

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