Local News

Theatre revamp gets £6m boost

Saturday 26 October 2019

Redevelopment of Hertford Theatre received a boost earlier in the week when additional funding for the project was approved at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (23rd October).

The extra money forms part of an overall £19.9m budget to deliver the plans for redevelopment, which include:

  • Three new cinema screens, which will allow for screenings of newly released films
  • More seating in the main auditorium and a new 150-seat studio
  • A riverside café-bar for theatre and castle park visitors
  • A relaxed, open public plaza-style setting
  • Additional space for community hire

The Hertford Theatre development is being funded in full by Public Works Loan Board lending, which will be repaid in full over a 30 year period. Interest on the government loan is estimated at 2.68%.

At present the theatre is subsidised to the tune of over £300,000 a year. The redevelopment is hoped to turn this in to an operating profit of £110,000 per year.

Following a feasability study last year, the council approved funding of £13.5m for the redevelopment and architects were appointed to draw up plans. However, recent work by structural engineers has revealed that the loading capacity of the existing building that wraps around the main auditorium would not be able to support the additional proposed cinema block. This therefore means that the current building would need to be demolished and a new structure put in its place, adding significant cost to the project.

Wednesday's meeting saw an hour long discussion of the plans, with Labour and Liberal Democrat members raising concerns about costs, both of the redevelopment project itself, and potential increases in charges to local and community groups for use of the theatre. However, at the end of the discussion, a majority of councillors voted in favour of the additional funding.

Speaking after the meeting, Eric Buckmaster, executive member for wellbeing, said: "We are delighted to be able to make such a huge investment in our already very successful theatre in Hertford. Hertford Theatre is a vibrant, focal point of the town and this expansion will allow us to provide an even better offering for our visitors."

Initial plans for the redeveloped theatre will be on display on Sunday November 17 in the River Room at Hertford Theatre from 10am-4pm where local residents you will be able to meet the development team and architects responsible for delivering project.

A planning application is expected to be submitted before the end of the year.

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