Theatre could be demolished for homes

CONTROVERSIAL plans to knock down a modern theatre building only used for four years so 50 homes can be constructed have upset villagers.The Angel Theatre, in Rendlesham, could be demolished to make way for warden-supervised sheltered accommodation for the elderly.

By Richard Smith

CONTROVERSIAL plans to knock down a modern theatre building only used for four years so 50 homes can be constructed have upset villagers.

The Angel Theatre, in Rendlesham, could be demolished to make way for warden-supervised sheltered accommodation for the elderly.

The theatre is in a huge building constructed in 1992 and was used as a community centre by the American Air Force before it left the Bentwaters airbase a year later.


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The building was brought back to life in 2002 when the theatre was transferred from a nearby site after its original home was demolished - and now it may be relocated again to the sports centre.

Stuart Aldridge, who manages the theatre, said yesterday: “It is difficult to know the thinking behind this. The theatre has been doing reasonably well, with some shows selling very well and some not. I need to have a chance to look at the plans before commenting further.”

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Boyer Planning, acting for the applicant Rendlesham Project Services Ltd, said: “Outline consent is sought for the redevelopment of the former Angel Theatre site, which is underused and not economically viable, to provide warden-managed sheltered accommodation for the elderly.

“It has been established that activities at the theatre can be transferred to the leisure centre, which has capacity to accommodate these in conjunction with its existing programme.

“Thus the extent of facilities at the settlement will be maintained, whilst the range of housing choice will be enhanced, creating a more balanced community.”

The planning agents said a three-year search for a funder or purchaser of the building had failed to reveal any serious contenders.

They added: “It has been demonstrated that, whilst the theatre provides some beneficial community activities including concerts, plays, operatic, dance and choral events, the extent and intensity of usage is insufficient to secure the long term funding of the facility following cessation of support from the site owners.

“This is a major problem and it is inevitable that the theatre will fail, as even without rental payments the theatre is unable to cover even running expenses alone.”

Albert Tiller, chairman of Rendlesham parish council, said: “The parish council is on the side of the theatre. They did have a wonderful little theatre originally and now they have a specific building which is second to none. I am totally shocked but I am not surprised one iota.”

Heather Sutton, of Wackerfield Road, Rendlesham, said: “I have lived here under a year and when I came it was being projected as a new village and community.

“It is quite a far sighted thing to do, but I think they will shoot themselves in the foot if they get rid of the theatre. Elderly people would be much happier being able to live in their own home and getting out in the evening to go to the theatre than having the theatre knocked down.”

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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