Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Second chance for Thameside Theatre rescue bid 

CAMPAIGNERS have been given a second chance to save the Thameside Theatre Complex with a revised business plan, but it will need to include a £20million, 30-year maintenance plan to ensure success reports Local Democracy Reporting Scheme.

Thurrock Council has worked with community groups since announcing the complex was earmarked for disposal, with the library and museum relocated to the civic centre.

The council considered an outline business case by a partnership between Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions and Thurrock International Celebration of Culture before concluding it would not be viable.

The council said it would run a consultation on alternative provision for cultural events in Grays but at a meeting of Thurrock’s corporate overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday it was agreed a revised community proposal could be submitted as part of that consultation.

A bid by Waltham International College will not be reconsidered.

Mark Bradbury, Thurrock Council’s director of place delivered his report on the bids at the meeting. He said no decision had been taken on the sale or lease of the 1972-built theatre but any bid to lease the building would hinge on financial sustainability, independent of council help in future years.

Mr Bradbury said: “My approach to this is to look at the lifecycle of the lease, a thirty-year lease, and look at what the investment requirement is over that period. There will be certain things that will be needed to be done immediately for health and safety reasons and some of those have been done because we need to ensure compliance.

“It’s a 50-year-old building, the heating and regulation systems are going to need replacing at some stage during the next 30 years. The lifts are going to need to be replaced over the next 30 years. Many of the electrical systems are likely to need replacing in the next 30 years and you would be looking at five-yearly internal and external redecoration clauses. If you rolled all that up you are getting into a figure that is many millions.”

Mr Bradbury added the community bid had not demonstrated it could meet the financial cost of the building without grants yet to be identified.

Samantha Byrne from the Save the Theatre’ Campaign said the bid had not been formally discussed. Speaking at the meeting, she said: “We believe this report on the future of Thameside should not go to cabinet until full and proper consultation has taken place on our bid.”

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