Jun 12 2008 by Alastair McNeill, Hamilton Advertiser
PROPOSALS to demolish a Hamilton landmark and replace it with an office block were this week given the go-ahead.
Developers’ plans to raze the former Vogue Bingo building in Keith Street, and put a four-storey block with parking and landscaping in its place, were approved at Tuesday’s planning committee.
The building, originally a cinema, dates from the 1920s and sits within the Hamilton conservation area.
South Lanarkshire Council had been seeking alternative uses for the B-listed building since plans to include it in an arts centre were abandoned in 1999.
These had involved retaining the structure’s distinctive facade, but this came to nothing.
The site is part of the Hamilton Towers scheme which includes the cinema, hotel, restaurants and flats.
Hamilton Civic Society, while not submitting any formal objection, had expressed concern over not keeping the building’s facade.
But planning chief, Iain Urquhart, pointed out to councillors this week that the authority’s conservation officer Angus Clark believed the proposal to demolish the building should be consideredfavourably.
“He (Mr Clark) is of the opinion that the building’s importance has been diminished, both physically and historically, by the removal of the auditorium,” he said.
“The condition of the building is in a very poor and dilapidated state and is now a negative factor in terms of the area’s townscape.
“It could prejudice the future potential for the economic and physical regeneration of the surrounding area.”
Mr Urquhart pointed out that while policies were in place to protect conservation area buildings, these did not rule out redevelopment with appropriate justification.
He told councillors he considered Lynnham Properties’ plans for offices met national planning guidelines.
“They will contribute to the aim of expanding the office function within Hamilton and reinforce the comprehensive town centre improvements carried out to date,” Mr Urquhart added.
“The development will bridge the physical link between the traditional town centre and the Palace Grounds development and increase pedestrian activity in this area, therefore, improving the vitality and viability of the town centre.”