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Boost for theatregoers

PUBLISHED: 11:06 08 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 March 2010

THEATREGOERS have received a boost after a new home was provisionally found for a popular playhouse that is being axed to make way for a village centre.

THEATREGOERS have received a boost after a new home was provisionally found for a popular playhouse that is being axed to make way for a village centre.

A major housing development at Rendlesham, near Woodbridge, has been given the go-ahead by councillors and will result in the former American cinema, currently used by the Angel Theatre, being demolished

But it has been revealed that last minute talks about the plans have centred on re-housing the theatre at an alternative building just a stone's throw from the current site.

It is just part of a scheme which has been backed by planners at Suffolk Coastal District Council that will mean the building of 445 new homes with associated community facilities in the village.

Rendlesham Project Services Ltd, which manages the domestic base of the former Bentwaters air base, has spent thousands of pounds on advertising the American community centre at the site and trying to find someone to use it as a conference centre.

But estate manager Greg Vincent admitted no one had signed a deal and therefore he had held talks with officials at the Angel Theatre this week to establish if they wanted to move into part of the centre and have a 200 to 250-seat auditorium.

Negotiations are continuing and supporters of the theatre are hoping the uncertainty will be resolved quickly to ensure it does not lose money because people are unsure about its future.

The theatre was opened by Rolf Harris at a grand ceremony in September 1999 and has Liz Hurley as its patron.

Rendlesham postmistress Sue Howarth, who has been spearheading a campaign to keep the theatre, said: ''People come from all over the country to the Angel to follow various acts and they say what a wonderful theatre it is with beautiful acoustics.''

However, members of the development control sub-committee said they thought the 488-seater theatre was too large and uneconomic to run in the sparsely populated countryside.

Ray Herring, council leader, said: "There should be a business case made for it to be retained. It is stuck in a remote part of the countryside and its viability is a question which should be addressed."

Councillors agreed to increase the number of houses being built on a brownfield site from 313 to 445 and this will avoid using too much greenfield land for other housing.

Two national housebuilders are interested in the site and planners will meet again in April to discuss the finer detail of the creation of the village centre.


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