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Plan for new 200-seat space on roof of Cambridge Arts Theatre

A new rooftop studio theatre is proposed to increase the range of shows Cambridge Arts Theatre can put on.

The plans for the theatre in St Edwards Passage include replacing the former restaurant on its roof with a new 200 seat venue.

Illustrative image of what the Cambridge Arts Theatre could look like if the refurbishment and rooftop extension are approved (60482263)
Illustrative image of what the Cambridge Arts Theatre could look like if the refurbishment and rooftop extension are approved (60482263)

A refurbishment of the main 666-seat auditorium is also planned to improve comfort and to make the theatre look more like how it was when it was built in 1936.

The building underwent a major refurbishment between 1993 and 1997, and the front of house of the main theatre was renovated again between 2010 and 2013.

The theatre is Grade II listed, so listed building consent has been sought alongside the full planning application.

Planning documents submitted to Cambridge City Council say: “The aim of the proposed works is to improve the auditorium in terms of comfort for audience and performers, enhance it technically and restore the appearance closer to its original form.

“The creation of the new studio theatre, replacing the disused restaurant, is to provide a new 200-seat venue.

“The new space will provide Cambridge Arts Theatre with the ability to increase their repertoire of incoming shows, whilst also providing the opportunity for a variety of different endeavours, including in-house productions, collaborations with university and educational faculties, as well as facilitating a more diverse range of shows and performance types.”

The application says increasing audiences would also have a “knock on effect” for the vitality of the city centre, adding it will help to boost the economy.

The proposed rooftop studio theatre is planned to replace the former restaurant, which was added to the theatre in the ‘90s. The planning documents state that it has been closed for many years due to not being economically viable.

The existing sloping glass roof will be demolished and the new theatre is planned to have a flat roof, which is proposed be a green roof with PV panels “sited where practical”.

The plans state that the new part of the building will only be noticeable from Wheeler Street round the corner into Peas Hill. It added that a “barely perceptible change” in views would take place from the north east corner of Market Square and from St Edward’s Passage.

The plans add: “The new form will have a distinctive chimney and modelled brick façade. Bricks of a warm grey hue are considered the most appropriate colour to sit comfortably with the historic Cambridge gault bricks. Brickwork detailing will subtly enliven the façade.”

The works would also improve the environmental performance of the building, the application states.

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