Portsmouth theatre’s new facilities will be ‘creative hub’

FUTURISTIC An artist's impression of what the new buildings will look like
FUTURISTIC An artist's impression of what the new buildings will look like
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PORTSMOUTH’S cultural scene has received a major boost as the city’s oldest theatre will be given a £4m revamp.

The New Theatre Royal will have a large extension built on the back of the 158-year-old building that will house a fly tower, a performing arts centre and new back of house facilities.

A fire in 1972 destroyed many of the theatre’s dressing rooms and green rooms and ever since there has been a desire to reinstate these.

Councillors on Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the plans at a meeting yesterday.

The meeting heard how an earlier scheme included an 11-storey student halls of residence building.

But this was deleted from the plan as concerns had been raised about its design.

The University of Portsmouth will still play a big role in the regeneration as the performing arts centre will allow students to develop their talents and include a space for broadcasting.

The centre will be named after the late Anthony Minghella, a celebrated film director who went to school in Portsmouth.

Caroline Sharman, director of New Theatre Royal, said the development was merging 21st century facilities with a beautiful Grade II-listed building.

She said it would attract more West End producers.

She told the committee: ‘The redevelopment will play a huge part in the cultural regeneration of Portsmouth.

‘It will be a creative hub. It will build on the footprint of the old and add a vibrant learning space – a home for nurturing local talent.’

Cllr Lee Hunt, committee chairman, said: ‘The city used to be punching above its weight – now it’s punching its full weight.

‘We have got this wonderful opportunity here.’

Building is set to start in January and the new facilities open by summer 2014.