Image: Wikimedia Commons

Westerhope’s former Orion Bingo hall in Stamfordham Road is in line for major redevelopment works, with plans to transform the now-derelict building into an exciting new restaurant and bar, as well as a coffee shop. Reports in the north-east press suggested that the Orion Bingo hall was being mooted as a future site for a Wetherspoons public house. However, those plans never came to fruition, with Wetherspoons publicly denying suggestions that they had acquired the bingo hall in March. Subsequent architectural plans – lodged with Newcastle City Council – confirm proposals for a new restaurant and café instead, complete with an upstairs bar.

Image: Pixabay

For several decades, The Orion Bingo hall formed a key part of the local community in Westerhope. It was even rebranded and relaunched in 2017 as Hay Bingo pumped in as much as £400,000 into the doomed venture, but it closed down once again just 12 months later, falling into a bitterly disappointing state of disrepair, due largely to a lack of interest and demand from locals. It’s another clear indictment of the way the UK’s bingo industry is evolving, with many traditional bingo players now preferring to play their favourite bingo games online or on mobile devices for convenience.

The former boss of the Orion Bingo hall was also imprisoned back in 2013 for stealing more than £100,000 from the hall’s then-owners, with the property no stranger to controversy in recent times. On the plus side, this building’s redeveloper is keen to freshen up the property, helping it to become a focal point for Westerhope once more and providing new jobs to the west of Newcastle city centre.

BH Planning and Design submitted the latest proposals to the City Council on behalf of applicant Arben And Kushtrm Gegaj. The documents state that a new restaurant, bar and coffee shgop would “add to the range of existing facilities” on offer to the people of Westerhope. The proposal also states the redevelopment would lead to the “creation of important local employment opportunities” which are vital in the recent uncertain economic times.

The latest proposals also pledge that there will not be an “increase” in disturbances, noise or odours for the local area. Instead, the proposals insist the redevelopment will provide a “significant visual improvement” to the derelict bingo hall, helping to add value to the nearby neighbourhood.

Within the proposals, the application confirms that the restaurant and upstairs bar would open daily between noon and 9.30pm, while the next-door coffee shop would operate between 7am and 5pm. The entire redevelopment, once finished, will require eight full-time and four part-time employees.

Stamfordham Road celebrated another impressive refurbishment late last year when Westerhope’s Jingling Gate pub reopened its doors after a six-figure renovation. Since its reopening, the pub has received “great feedback” on its new, brighter décor and a revamped food menu. The Greene King-owned pub is “at the heart of the Newcastle community”, according to its general manager, Wilton Holmes. It’s great to see developers looking at Westerhope with such positivity in recent times.