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Traffic mayhem claim for re-opened Gala Bingo building

Published: 28th February 2010 18:22
Plans to convert the former Gala Bingo and Kingsway Cinema into restaurant and banqueting venue have been lambasted by a local councillor.

In a letter to Birmingham City Council planners, Cllr Martin Mullaney says the new use would bring traffic chaos to the High Street.

Gala Bingo - former Kingsway Cinema on Kings Heath High Street, Birmingham"The planning application anticipates 300 dinners, plus 400 guests using the new banqueting hall for weddings on the new first floor at the weekend. Where are they all going to park? There is a complete lack of parking in the area and this will cause mayhem," he says.

"Combined with the complete lack of parking, this facility will make the traffic congestion even worse for Kings Heath. The traffic report tries to compare the use of the new facility with the previous Bingo Hall. Most of the people who used the Bingo Hall were pensioners and used the bus," says Cllr Mullaney. "The people who will use the wedding venue will come by car."

The planning application is not specifically for a ‘wedding venue', nor do the new owners need to tell council planners what type of restaurant they are intending to open in the former Bingo hall. However the documents submitted to the city council by J & B Sattar themselves quote the example of the Nawaab International Restaurant and Banqueting Hall in Levershulme, Manchester.

The Nawaab, a £1m transformation of a former Mecca bingo hall, is now a luxury venue offering an all you can eat Indian buffet for £12 a head and has received four-star reviews from the Manchester press. It has also hosted events such as "Britain's biggest curry party" and "The Ramadan Road Show" - although there is no suggestion of large events being organised in Kings Heath.

Nevertheless the Birmingham application does admit there would be a need for many more car parking spaces than can be provided on site. It also talks of people arriving by mini-bus and looks at the requirements for coach parking. City planners asked for a full transport assessment to be included in the application now being considered by members of the Birmingham council planning committee.

A 60-page consultant's report seen by AboutMyArea reveals the scale of the traffic impact on Kings Heath High Street and the rest of the town centre. It suggests diners and guests could use the car parks at Sainsbury's, Homebase and Somerfield (soon to be Asda) - pointing out that there are more than 140 spaces at the rear of Somerfield that are hardly used in the evening. Plans show a drop off point for small coaches outside Blockbusters and include a photograph of where larger 13 metre long coaches could park outside the Station pub further down the High Street.

"Bingo halls are known to generate coach trips. The banqueting centre would be no different and adequate facilities can be provided adjacent to the venue," the report claims.

Local history

The Kingsway Cinema at The Parade on Kings Heath High Street opened 85 years ago this week (2 March 1925) and was designed by Horace G Bradley. The same architect was responsible for a number of Birmingham cinemas - all in the neo-classical style.

It closed as a cinema in May 1980 when the final films were "The Bermuda Triangle" and a documentary feature "Encounter with Disaster".

Gala Bingo opened on the site in 1982 and closed in 2007.

As a cinema the building had 1362 seats and it was licensed as a bingo hall for 903 occupants. The current planning application is for a 300-seat restaurant and banqueting/conference facility with a capacity of 400.

The applicants describe the Gala/Kingsway as "an important feature in the urban landscape of Kings Heath High Street."

What do you think?

Re-opening the building would bring an important landmark back into use
A popular venue would add vitality to the High Street and bring in business
But is the extra traffic a price worth paying?


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Mike F
At 21:41 on 1st March 2010, Mike F commented:
you wouldn't have the extra traffic if the plans for the Kings Heath bypass/tunnel hadn't been thrown out in the 80s? but yes to the appliction

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