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Ashford's Odeon Square on Vicarage Lane contract open for bids

ByCharlie Harman

Architects can now compete to design the town centre regeneration scheme for Ashford, despite the Mecca Bingo hall’s ongoing assessment for listed building status.

A post entitled “Competition: Vicarage Lane, Ashford” advertising the opportunity to bid on the contract has been published on Architects’ Journal’s website.

An artist's impression of the site, showing the rear of the former Mecca Bingo(7184981)
An artist's impression of the site, showing the rear of the former Mecca Bingo(7184981)

Ashford Borough Council reveals in the advert that the Odeon Square contract is worth an estimated £850,000 and that designs should be based on the current concept created by Ash Sakula Architects.

The competition post also announced construction’s expected end, with Ashford Borough Council saying it should be finished by 2023.

The local authority states: “Ashford Borough Council is seeking a skilled, experienced and innovative architect to bring forward the mixed-use town centre redevelopment known as Vicarage Lane.

"This procurement is concerned with testing the architect’s skills, experience, innovation and their financial terms to enable the council to select a preferred architect.

“Bids will be evaluated 70 per cent on quality and 30 per cent on price."

How the site will be laid out (7184983)
How the site will be laid out (7184983)

The deadline for applications is 2.30pm on Wednesday, October 2.

Currently, the project will see the Mecca Bingo building partially demolished and Vicarage Lane car park removed.

In its place will be a new 120-capacity events venue, a public square and footpath, 61 residential units, as well as shops, restaurants and cafés.

However, Ashford Borough Council may have to revise the proposal as Historic England is still assessing whether the former Odeon building should be granted Grade-II listed status.

If the 1930s building - which the council bought for £1.8 million last year - is given this recognition, it may spell trouble for the scheme.

Not only does listed status make the building itself more difficult to alter, the surrounding construction work would have to be sympathetic to the hall’s structure and views.

The council hopes to demolish the back of the former bingo hall.
The council hopes to demolish the back of the former bingo hall.

The building is currently at the second ‘full assessment’ stage, meaning a site visit will soon be made by inspectors.

Following this there will be a 21-day consultation, before a full report and recommendation are sent to the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport.

Last week, Historic England said the decision to grant it listed status is “still a way off”.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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