‘We will make sure it works’. That is the message from a leading councillor after plans to transform Alnwick Playhouse into a community hub were approved.
The major overhaul, which will start soon, follows a deal being struck for the county council to buy the building and then grant a new 50-year lease to Alnwick District Playhouse Trust to enable it to continue to operate the theatre, studio, bar and an expanded café facility.
The county council will use the remaining part of the ground floor to house library, tourist information and customer-service facilities.
However, this part of the scheme has caused some concern, with Alnwick Town Council voicing its objections.
While local councillors welcome the community hub idea and refurbishment of the Playhouse, they are worried about how the space will sufficiently accommodate the relocated TIC, library and customer services.
Recently, the town council requested an opportunity for the public to be able to ask questions about how this will work.
At last Thursday’s planning meeting, Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castle gave assurances that a community engagement event will happen and insisted that the authority will get it right.
He said: “This has been three years in the making – we want this to happen and we want it to work. The TIC, library and customer services will be in a space and there will be a soft line between Playhouse and council facilities and staff will be multi-tasked.
“We will have an engagement event and we will be setting up an engagement group to make sure that this works and sort out any teething problems.
“Hexham is an example of how this sort of a scheme can work, and work well.”