A local shop trader, Sue Sheppard, helped transform a building formerly dubbed “Folkestone’s number one eyesore”. But she is now disappointed that the structure is set to be demolished.
The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust (RDCHT) has announced plans to knock down the former bingo hall (as well as surrounding buildings) in Dover Road to make way for a new development.
Miss Sheppard says: “The mural will be gone. I’m very sad because it was a real community effort and it has brought back a lot of local pride, which was not there before.
“The mural is something nice to have – they are really quick to demolish things without coming up with something to replace it. It’s very upsetting, but it won’t be the end of the mural project – that’s for certain.”
The mural project started in 2012 when Miss Sheppard noticed the state of the former private club building and started a campaign to improve its appearance.
After receiving funding and with the help of volunteers, a display featuring the Folkestone Harbour Branch line, the Lead lift and actress Diana Dors was painted onto the structure.
If the plan to demolish the buildings gets the approval of Shepway District Council, then the mural will be torn to the ground.
There is a ray of hope otherwise though – as Sue explains: “We have got good mural artists and we are looking to do one elsewhere in the area. We have already obtained funding from Shepway District Council and the RDHCT.”
Work is proposed to start in March next year, although no decision has been made about future use of the site.
A RDHCT spokesman said: “The derelict bingo hall and adjacent buildings have been acquired by the RDHCT in order to promote regeneration in this part of Folkestone.
“Consideration has been given to new uses for the existing buildings but they have been determined to be unsuitable, contaminated with asbestos and beyond economic repair.
“The bingo venue closed before the property changed ownership and the remainder is derelict. The RDHCT has applied for permission to demolish the buildings pending a decision on future uses.”
What a sad event for both mural and bingo lovers!