THE new owner of the Shipley’s bingo hall in Redditch is promising an 'imaginative regeneration' of the popular venue - which could include a new restaurant and shops.

The prominent building block is vacant save for Rilys Indian restaurant on Alcester Street.

Poundstretcher, also facing Alcester Street, closed more than six years ago and Shipley’s on the Queen Street frontage plans to close in March following a downturn in trading.

There were fears that the building would blight the town centre if investment was not forthcoming, but the new owners are promising to spend £2.5m on its refurbishment.

And, says a spokesman, they are creating a new restaurant unit next door to Rilys Indian restaurant in part of the abandoned Poundstretcher store, should planning permission be granted.

“Our whole focus is to bring the building back to life with new uses and a much more dynamic and active frontage,” said Richard Lanyon, of Lanyon Associates, who has advised on the building’s acquisition and development.

“New occupiers and uses will attract extra footfall to the area and ensure that this end of the town centre remains busy throughout the week,” he added.

Subject to planning the new owners hope to create:

• Three new retail units along the side of the building, facing Wetherspoons and Domino’s pizza parlour

• A new restaurant unit next door to the expanded Rilys, on Alcester Street

• A ground floor co-working space for start-up businesses, fronting Queen Street in a re-modelling of the bingo hall entrance

• A new urban managed storage concept on the upper floors called StoreAway, the first in the UK

Lanyon said that the lettings focus for the new retail units will be on offering attractive terms to independent local retailers.

“The future of the high street lies with independent operators," he said.

"They bring colour, variety and specialism and Redditch has an appetite for this as much as anywhere else.”

Mujibur Rahman, owner of Rilys, that occupies part of the ground floor of the building, said he is excited by its redevelopment.

“Having a proactive owner willing to invest in the building has given me the confidence to expand our own footprint," he said.

"We’ll be creating new jobs and extending our offer to the people of Redditch. I’m hugely encouraged by the owner’s focus on bringing other new independent operators to this part of the town centre.”

The building’s upper floors will be converted into a storage facility, with a new mezzanine floor inserted into the former double-height bingo hall.

Commenting on the new uses, Jim Shipley of bingo hall operator Shipley Leisure, said: “We hope that the new use for the building will be a success and create job opportunities to replace some of the ones we had.”

A planning application has been submitted to Redditch Borough Council and will be heard at the planning committee on February 19.

If approved work on the building is expected to commence in April.