A two year battle over the future of the former Gala bingo hall came to an end last week as relieved residents heard it would not be turned into a nightclub.
New owners CNM Estates called a community meeting at the Grey Horse pub on Thursday to discuss the future of the derelict bingo hall.Wahid Samady, chairman of CNM, told concerned residents that he had “no current plans” for the building, adding “the one thing I can say to you here and now is that it will not be a nightclub”.
Before the meeting resident Audrey March confessed to feeling “nervous excitement”. She said: “We don’t know what’s going to happen but we’re really hoping it will be a lot better and more to the community’s liking that what was going on before.”
She and other residents breathed a sigh of relief as Samedy confirmed he would not be continuing with former owner Franco Lumba’s plan to turn the listed building into a 2,000 capacity club venue.
Angela Duffy from the Central Canbury Residents’ Association said: “He couldn’t have done any better really” but she expressed scepticism over Mr Samedy’s claim that the company had “genuinely no idea” what to do with the space.
“He obviously has plans, you don’t spend that many millions and not have plans but I can wait to hear them,” she said.
Speculation was increased when Samedy revealed CNM had hired nationally renowned architects Conran Partners to design the mystery project.
Julie Samuels said “Does he really not have a clue? Of course he does”
But any doubts over CNM’s apparent lack of plans were outweighed by residents’ relief over Mr Samedy’s willingness to listen to the community.
Councillor Andrea Craig said: “The meeting was a constructive meeting. Although we haven’t learned anything in respect to what they’re going to do which is slightly frustrating, he’s a least engaged with the community about wanting to hear properly what they have to say.”
CNM Estates are launching an online forum on the 1st November where they will be asking the community to put forward suggestions for the building’s use.
CNM bought the building from former owner Franco Lumba on October…..Mr Lumba is due to stand trial next year for multiple charges of financial misconduct. Mr Lumba’s two year ownership of the building was beset by controversy as he tried to push through night club plans in the face of vociferous community opposition.
Mr Samedy was unclear about when work would begin on the building but said he didn’t want to “hang around”.
“We want a solution for this building,” he said. “We would like to get to the point early next year where we have an approved concept that as many of us as possible can hang our hat on to.”
The community forum will open on 1st November and can be found at www.CNMEstates.com/Gala