In its place would be a
new entrance to the Museum of British Road Transport and a glass
map of the world featuring different time lines embedded in the
A Compulsory Purchase
Order was served on businesses in the area after a planning
inspector ruled that the former Coventry Theatre and other
buildings in the area should be sold to the city council to make
way for the £40 million development.
But Gala Bingo has
announced that they are to take legal action to block the sale
of their building.
They had been offered a
site in a new building on a car park near Pool Meadow bus
Instead they have been
told that there are grounds to challenge the order and the
Secretary of State's decision.
Gala has therefore
lodged an application to the High Court to have it quashed.
The company's legal
advisers believe that the Secretary of State has failed to give
sufficient regard to planning problems or explain why he
considers the development will not be blocked by them.
Coventry City Council
will need to secure road closure orders in relation to the Hales
Street/Fairfax Street junction, which Gala believes will be a
very controversial matter.
Gala has appointed
London barrister John Steel, QC, to act on its behalf in the
Gala's chief executive,
John Kelly, said:
"We were shocked
and surprised at the decision to confirm the planning
inspector's report, especially as Mr Prescott unreservedly
accepted the contribution the bingo club makes to the city
"We have a
vibrant business here and we want to stay in the city centre.
I think we owe it to our thousands of regular customers and
particularly to our staff, who have soldiered on loyally
through months of uncertainty, to fight his decision to the
director Chris Beck said the move was primarily against the
Secretary of State’s decision, but some time would have to be
spent to prepare their own view.
“They will lodge an
appeal and it will go the High Court.
“We understand that
can normally take four to six weeks, but I’m aware it’s
the holiday period.”
Mr Beck said that the
threat that funding would be withdrawn if the project had not
been completed by December 2001 had receded.
Millennium Commission had stipulated that the initiative would
have to be ready by the time the commission itself was wound up.
Any delay in the courts
could therefore have severe repercussions for the financial
stability of the Phoenix Initiative.
But Mr Beck said the
Millennium Commission’s lifetime has since been extended,
allowing more time to sort out the legal wrangles.
Supporters of the
campaign to save the art deco building from destruction say they
are delighted with the news.
Mike Newman, founder
member of the Hippodrome Appreciation Society, said he was
hopeful that the legal move could save the theatre.
“I was delighted
when I heard the news. To mount a legal challenge against the
public inquiry would have cost thousands of pounds.
“One of the biggest
problems of the public inquiry was that the microphones in the
council chamber were not working and a lot of people weren’t
able to hear what was going on.”