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.