47-53 Bath Road
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Treasured Theatre Gets Green Light for Redevelopment
One of Cheltenham’s most celebrated, historic venues has been given the green light to undergo a multi-million pound redevelopment, to transform it into a cutting-edge hub for performing arts communities.
The board of trustees for the much-loved Cheltenham Playhouse recently secured planning permission to modernise the Grade II listed building and performance spaces in 2020, which will be the 75th anniversary of its rebirth as an iconic theatre.
While the intimate auditorium will remain untouched, a double-height atrium will be created to open up the heart of the venue and provide a place to soak up rich history and permanent heritage displays over coffee or lunch. In this, anticipated lift access will be installed to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy the first-floor facilities for the first time.
Additional upgrades will include more flexible, affordable spaces for hire, for everything from workshops, events and meetings to rehearsals and small-scale theatre productions. Plus, relocating the public entrance and box office will further improve accessibility and visitor experience.
From its early life as a 19th Century spa, Cheltenham Playhouse evolved into a theatre in 1945 and, in more recent years, has played host to performances spanning live music, comedy, dance, poetry, burlesque, improv and film; making these planned modernisations a must to secure its relevance for future generations.
Once complete, Cheltenham Playhouse will be a hive of history and creativity for patrons, performers and businesses alike, whether they are looking for a unique and flexible space for the future, or inspiration from the past.
Malcolm Ball, Chair of the Trustees, said: “We are thrilled to have secured planning permission to bring Cheltenham Playhouse into the 21st Century and ensure it can be enjoyed and accessed by everyone for many more years to come.
“While these plans have been in the pipeline for the past two years, now we have been given the go ahead and estimated our fundraising target of £4million, we have set to work on applying for grants and funding, both locally and nationally, to bring our vision to life.
“As the redevelopment is for the benefit of the community, we look forward to working with our own to develop unique ways to raise funds, as only communities know how. Whether it be through sponsored events or online donation schemes, all ideas are welcome!
“The new and improved Cheltenham Playhouse will be a welcome addition to the vibrant Bath Road area, and we will announce our next steps and capital development fundraising strategy in due course.”
The board has been working with specialist heritage architects, Poole Phillips, as well as renowned archaeologists, to ensure the redevelopment plans are sensitive to the patchwork of historic developments going back more than 200 years.
Planning permission was granted by Cheltenham Borough Council and the board of trustees now have five years in which to complete the works. Cheltenham Borough Council who own the building have recently agreed to a new 25-year lease, which will help to secure a bright future for the theatre.
If you would like to work with the board of trustees to help fundraise for Project Playhouse, the redevelopment of Cheltenham Playhouse - volunteering your time, ideas or pledges - please email Malcolm Ball, Chair of Trustees, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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