Calls to bring Kettering bingo hall back into community use

Inside the bingo hall before it closed. Photo: A Holland
Inside the bingo hall before it closed. Photo: A Holland

A former bingo hall used by criminals as a cannabis factory twice in four months should be turned into a community venue.

That's the view of Kettering businesswoman Alison Holland, who has set up a petition to bring the former Gala Bingo hall in Kettering's High Street back to its glory days.

The plants had the potential to make 2.8m per year.

The plants had the potential to make 2.8m per year.

It closed as a bingo hall almost exactly one year ago and sat vacant before being used to grow drugs in February and then again more recently, with police raiding the premises on Friday. The cannabis plants found inside had the potential to make £2.8m per year.

Alison said she first suggested turning it into an independent cinema and multi-use community venue several months ago - and after the venue became famous for the wrong reasons she decided to see if there was community support for the venture.

She said: "A lot of people have a lot of affection for the building. They have some really good memories.

"But it's not just about those memories and looking back, it's about looking forward.

Cannabis plants covered almost every inch of the bingo hall.

Cannabis plants covered almost every inch of the bingo hall.

"We've got to bring the community into the town centre and this is just one way we can do it."

READ MORE: Kettering cannabis factory in pictures

Alison, who helps run the Kettering Town Centre Youth Partnership, said the venue complete with art deco frontage and auditorium had the potential to thrive.

Her petition to Kettering Council, calling on them to either step in and buy or lease the venue and support it being used by the community, has already attracted almost 700 signatures.

The building as Granada in 1973.

The building as Granada in 1973.

Christine Crick, who signed the petition, said: "A great idea to bring some life back into our once thriving town centre.

"It is such an iconic building with so many great memories for the people of Kettering."

Another who signed the petition, Bob Whale, said: "The Kettering music community and community in general deserve a class venue which the former bingo hall has the potential to be.

"This is a great oppotunity [sic], let’s make it happen!"

READ MORE: Cannabis factory one of the biggest officer had seen

Alison said the council had been open when talking to them about it.

She added: "Leaving such a building derelict is a complete waste when our high street and town centre businesses are desperate to have a feature to draw people to the town."

A Kettering Council spokesman said they would give the petition due consideration when they receive it.

Opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw said he supported the principle of saving the building and said the idea deserved to be explored.

The building opened as the Regal Cinema in 1936 and was Granada from 1948 to 1974, before closing as Gala Bingo in June 2018.