New completion date announced for £3.3million Alnwick Playhouse overhaul

The team behind the £3.3million overhaul of the Alnwick Playhouse to create a community hub have revealed early November as their new target completion date.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 16:45 pm
Updated Friday, 9th August 2019, 16:45 pm
The current state of Alnwick Playhouse. Picture by Ben O’Connell

The town’s popular arts venue closed 12 months ago for the major refurbishment project, which is being carried out by Northumberland County Council.

It followed an agreement being struck for the local authority to buy the building and then grant a new 50-year lease to Alnwick District Playhouse Trust for it to continue to operate the main auditorium, the ground-floor studio theatre, the bar and an expanded café facility.

The council will use the rest of the ground floor for the library, tourist information and customer services, investing £2.5million to ensure the building is to modern standards and fit for the future.

The Playhouse Trust has been fund-raising for an additional £800,000, of which the lion’s share is going towards new seats and layout in the auditorium to provide much more generous legroom, while it will also pay for a new get-in lift and a refurbished bar area.

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When the scheme was originally unveiled, back in late 2017, before detailed timetables were drawn up, it was suggested that the work could be finished by May 2019.

A county council spokesman said: “Work is now progressing well. At this stage we are anticipating contract completion in early November.

“We had been targeting end of September for construction work to finish, but had contingency built into the programme, as we anticipated that there are always unforeseen challenges in major refurbishment projects, so an early November completion is still within our programme tolerance.”

Some minor planning applications have been lodged to deal with some finishing touches.

One seeks to amend the approved plans to make some changes to the windows and doors, including getting rid of the proposed sliding door on the front, and add the likes of antennae on the roof and ventilation ducts.

The other bid is for advertisement consent for the replacement of the sign above the main entrance – the same size but in a different font, an additional sign on the main frontage and two additional banners for the library and tourist information. The existing four banners will also be replaced.