LOCAL people living in the Fishergate area needn't mourn the loss of the Mecca bingo hall - because they have plenty of other things to do.

So says a report to planners by developer DPP, which wants to demolish the building and put up a block of 276 student flats instead.

The report, by DPP planning, says the building is 'surplus to requirements' as a community facility.

It continues: "Research has identified 17 public houses or cafés, nine parks, walks or open spaces, and eight community spaces within 500 metres of the site.

"These include the Barbican Centre, a reading café, and York Cemetery as places that the local community can use."

The argument, however, has received short shrift from locals.

"Fans of the former Mecca Bingo site have been offered an unusual solution after being denied the site as a local community space...go and play in the Cemetery!" said Ann Clayton, who lives on William Court, just behind the bingo hall.

"These comments appear typical of the approach to the development, (which will have) its own gym, cinema room, restaurant and giant power plant.

"Locals fear (it) will be a drain on local doctors, pharmacies, Deliveroo drivers and other amenities, as well as creating traffic chaos along Fishergate, Bluebridge Lane and William Court."

Plans to convert the bingo hall, which has stood empty since it closed for the March 2020 lockdown and never reopened, were deferred by city planners in December.

Speaking at that meeting Cllr Pete Kilbane said the bingo hall was 'clearly a cultural facility, if not institution'.

Councillors said that if the building was a pub, they would be demanding evidence to show it was no longer viable.

In its report, however, DPP insists that the bingo hall is 'not essential to the day to day needs of the local community'.

"This is supported by the fact that no community events or regular meetings were held in the building before it closed."

But Ann Clayton argues that hundreds more student flats will not be essential to the community either.

"With City of York Council having already approved 1480 student `units’ at Frederick House, 81 at Aubrey House on Foss Islands Road and a decision on a further 328 room development awaited on James Street, approval of the Mecca Bingo would bring to over 2,000 the number of new student apartments in the last couple of years," she said.

A decision on the application was deferred in December so that safety, access and cycle provision could be further investigated.

Councillors also asked officers to bring back more information about the bingo hall's viability.

A council spokesperson said the application was 'due to come back to main committee soon'.

The council has so far received 63 letters of objection, and four in support.

The bingo hall is near the site of the historic Rialto cinema and concert venue, which was demolished in 2003 so the bingo hall could be built.