Negotiations on community hub in theatre still ongoing

Alnwick Playhouse.
Alnwick Playhouse.

Plans to transform Alnwick Playhouse into a community hub remain on the table, with negotiations between the key parties continuing.

As previously reported, in April last year, an agreement in principle was reached between Northumberland County Council, the Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) and Alnwick District Playhouse Trust, meaning the proposals, which would see the theatre building also house a library, tourist information and front-office facilities, could move ahead.

At the October meeting of Alnwick Town Council, town champion Dave Campbell, who is designed to be a link between the town council and the county council on the latter’s Market Town Initiative and how council buildings are to be used, said that there had been agreement on a ‘workable space compromise’, although this was subject to final design feasibility.

But, at the following month’s meeting, the town council heard from Liz Anderson, vice-chairman of the Playhouse trustees, said the trust was considering revised proposals.

She said: “The board of trustees had reached an understanding with the county council, but the proposals were changed and we are now dealing with new architects with different ideas. We know what the council wants, more or less, but we are very anxious that, in addition to the auditorium and the café, we get to access the studio, because it would be a backward step if we were to lose that.”

This week, a Northumberland County Council spokesman told the Gazette: “The council remains in negotiation with the two Trusts to acquire the Alnwick Playhouse and reconfigure the ground floor as a community hub while retaining the existing first-floor auditorium.”

The outcome of the negotiations are particularly crucial for the future of one service, which could lose its current home later this year.

The building on Green Batt which houses the library is being sold by owners the Northumberland Estates. The county council’s lease expires on October 22, 2020, but there is a break clause at October 23, 2017.