Plans for £20m theatre revamp coming soon

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, second right, and Minister of State for Schools The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP, centre, with representatives from Portchester Community School  and Henry Cort Community College

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AMBITIOUS ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ plans to revamp the Chichester Festival Theatre are expected to be placed before planners within weeks.

Its executive director Alan Finch confirmed residents have given their backing to pursue its plans at a series of consultations, which came to a finale with an Oaklands Park event last Sunday.

About 1,000 people turned out at the weekend to offer suggestions for the scheme, which has been put at up to £20m.

The listed building is considered to be in need of urgent modernisation.

Plans include new lifts, energy-efficient double-glazing and a landscaped piazza between the main theatre and the Minerva.

If approved by Chichester District Council, the plans would mean the theatre being closed for around 18 months and an open-air performance space potentially being created during the 2014-15 season while fundraising for the scheme is completed.

Mr Finch said: ‘We’re really buoyed by the feedback that we’ve had from people and the enthusiasm that they’ve shown for it.

‘We had someone ask us if we are going to make the maximum of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we know from the feedback that we are progressing with the right projects at the right time.’

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