Bid to transform West Yorkshire Playhouse welcomed by plans panel in Leeds

A MULTI million pound 'dramatic' new extension is proposed to transform and modernise the West Yorkshire Playhouse building at Quarry Hill in Leeds city centre.

An extension to the side and front of the existing theatre is planned to create new city-facing front entrance with major remodelling works planed inside the theatre building.

The plans, submitted by Leeds City Council with support from the Playhouse, include the addition of a new studio theatre space in the Rock Void.

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Members of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel welcomed the proposals during a pre-application discussion at Leeds Civic Hall yesterday.

Last year, the council appointed award-winning Page\Park Architects to lead on the designs for the theatre revamp.

Nicola Walls, lead consultant for Page/Park Architects, told yesterday’s city plans panel meeting: “What we are really looking to do is to give this building a dramatic and playful and exuberant feel. At the minute it looks municipal.”

City plans panel member Coun Christine MacNiven, said: “I think it’s very exciting. I have often thought it (the Playhouse) needed to have a front-facing aspect to attract people to come and see the wonderful performances that you put on.”

Panel members supported the design and voted to allow council officers to deal with the full planning application under delegated powers at a later date.

Panel chairman Coun James McKenna, said: “It’s a very unique way of progressing, but I think it highlights the great satisfaction we have on seeing the scheme and our desire for you to get on with it and get it done as quickly as possible.”

- Leeds City Council is set to commit £3.5m towards the cost of the refurbishment of the theatre building when the proposals are presented to the council’s Executive Board in June 2017.

The council’s successful initial application to Arts Council England (ACE) was followed by an invitation to make a further application for a grant of £6.3m towards the cost of the project. If the stage two application is successful, construction work will begin on site in 2018.

Page\Park Architects have previously designed improvements for The Centre for Contemporary Arts, the Theatre Royal in Glasgow and Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.