Court to hear planning appeal to over bingo-hall ‘nightclub’

Franco Lumba, owner of Kingston’s Gala bingo hall site, is to go to court to appeal against the council’s decision rejecting his 2,000-capacity nightclub plans.

Andrea Craig, Kingston councillor, said: “The applicant can appeal if they do not agree with the council’s decision. They can take the case to court within 28 days.” This hearing has the power to reverse the council’s decision to prevent the opening of a controversial 24-hour drinking venue.

Only a day before the deadline for the application, Julian Skeens, Lumba’s lawyer confirmed, “we have lodged an appeal”.

Even though permission has been refused, residents had reported trucks gathering rubble and levelling the ground floor of the Grade II building. The council immediately gave orders to stop the construction and warned that further work will be considered an offence.

Mr Lumba is no stranger to resident protests. He already owns Essence, a nightclub overlooking River Thames in Kingston. Bernadette Vallely, secretary of the Richmond Road Residents’ Association confirmed that residents have complained about “how awful it has been to live around the consequences of the Essence management system.”

Residents around the Gala site organised a petition which helped influence council’s rejection of the nightclub’s plans. Many residents are now very unhappy about that the court has been asked to re-consider the application.

A local resident under the name NewKingstonian commented on a blog saying, “Haven’t these people got the message yet that local people do not want their awful arena under any circumstances and we will fight against it until we win.” 

According to Gemma Gallat, communications officer at Kingston Council, “Planning colleagues have advised that the applicant has indeed appealed the Council decision. However, there has been no further decision; the appeal will be heard at Richmond on a date which is yet to be determined.”

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