THE Kings Theatre has taken possession of the final piece of the puzzle which will allow it to press forward with its multi-million pound regeneration plans.
The trust which runs the Edwardian venue has taken over the leasehold of the former H&E King sweet shop at number 26 Albert Road in Southsea.
Portsmouth City Council bought the property for £185,000. It already owns neighbouring 24 Albert Road and the theatre, while number 28 is owned by the Kings Theatre Trust, meaning the entire plot now belongs to partners in the theatre’s future.
Paul Woolf, the trust’s chairman, said: ‘This is a fantastic step towards our regeneration vision for the theatre and allows us to assess our plans with a holistic approach to the entire site.
‘We are delighted that the council has been so supportive and has been able to secure this property for us.
‘We are very grateful for their ongoing support and hope this excellent collaboration can continue throughout the regeneration project.’
Now we can sit down and look at all of the plans, get new advisors and look at what we can do and what we can affordPaul Woolf, chairman of The Kings Theatre Trust
The trust had previously announced the launch of its Big Project in April 2016 – a £13m renovation scheme to make the theatre fit for the 21st century.
But Mr Woolf, who came in as chairman at the end of last year, said they would now be going back to the drawing board and looking at carrying out the scheme in smaller, more manageable projects.
‘Now that we own 26, we can sit down and look at all of the plans, get new advisors and look at what we can do and what we can afford. Hopefully by January 1 we will have a good idea of where we are going next.
‘We’re very optimistic. This is a big step for us.’
Cllr Linda Symes, in charge of culture, leisure and sport for the council added: ‘I am delighted we have been able to help move the Kings Theatre’s regeneration plans forward and we are looking forward to working with them on the next stages of this project.’
The sweet shop’s final owner, Ray King, died last July aged 87. A popular figure on the street, his family had owned the unit for more than a century. He had no immediate family.