Kings Theatre regeneration in Southsea could begin with £3.6m cash boost from Portsmouth council

'AMBITIOUS' plans to regenerate an historic city theatre will be a step closer if a £3.6m cash boost from Portsmouth City Council is approved.

Saturday, 25th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 25th January 2020, 1:25 pm
Cllr Steve Pitt, deputy leader and portfolio holder for culture at Portsmouth City Council, left, and Paul Woolf, chief executive of the Kings Theatre in Southsea. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

The Grade II-listed Kings Theatre in Albert Road, Southsea, is set to undergo a renovation including new facilities such as a creative hub, exhibition space, bars, restaurants and rehearsal space.

Funds for the work will be up for debate by the council in the next two weeks and include a £350,000 grant for the theatre, a loan of £3m and paying for £300,000 of existing maintenance costs.

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Cllr Steve Pitt, deputy leader and portfolio holder for culture at Portsmouth City Council, left, and Paul Woolf, chief executive of the Kings Theatre in Southsea. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

Councillor Steve Pitt, the council's deputy leader, said: 'We forget how lucky we are having a Grade II-listed theatre in Portsmouth that is full of history and puts on such a range of events and performances, which is commercially successful and deserves investment.

'As a council we value what it adds to the city's cultural offer and it's important we help preserve and enhance it wherever possible.

'We don't have the money to just give the theatre everything they need, but we can provide them with a loan on better terms than they would get anywhere else and by doing that it can benefit everyone in the city.'

The Kings Theatre announced its plans for a major renovation project last year, which involve demolishing three adjacent shops to create a community-focused cultural hub, new bar spaces and a dining offer.

Chief executive of the Kings Theatre Trust, Paul Woolf, added: 'I'm delighted the council's administration is looking to support the Kings Theatre and our ambitious plans.

'We want to develop new facilities that can help generate money for the theatre and allow us to keep improving while preserving the heritage that everyone loves.

'Once the budget plans are confirmed we'll be able to look at the exact terms of the council's proposal but clearly anything that moves us nearer to our target is fantastic news.

'When everything is finalised we'll know what we need to concentrate on fundraising in the coming year.'

The proposed funds will go to the council's cabinet on February 4. If passed they will be then taken to full council for final sign-off on February 11.