Hertford Theatre prepares for reopening and then closing ahead of £19.9m redevelopment project

An artist impression of the Hertford Theatre Growth & Legacy Project, which has been granted planning approval.

An artist impression of the Hertford Theatre Growth & Legacy Project, which has been granted planning approval. - Credit: East Herts District Council

A near £20milllion redevelopment of a Hertfordshire theatre has been given the green light.

Hertford Theatre's 'Growth & Legacy Project' has been given planning approval by East Herts District Council.

The investment of £19.9m will enable first release films to be shown across three bespoke cinema screens, a new 150-seat studio auditorium for smaller live acts and performances, a plaza-style foyer with riverside café-bar, and an increased main auditorium space for larger productions.

Rhys Thomas, director of Hertford Theatre, said: “Throughout the health crisis over the last year, the one thing that has been even more crucial and evident is a need to hold on to a sense of community.

"The improvement works will ensure that Hertford Theatre can meet demand and will sustainably stand the test of time.

“The theatre is such a hub, in the middle of Hertford town, and so well used by many community groups.

"The new opportunities and the emphasis on sustainability that the Growth and Legacy Project will bring are going to be exciting to watch take shape.”

The scheme will make Hertford Theatre a beacon of sustainability for the county and across the national arts sector. 

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There will be two hireable community spaces and improved access to all areas of the building, which sits next to the River Lea.

Improved integration with the surrounding historical area will uncover the 12th century motte at the back of the theatre, which people will be able to reach directly from The Wash via a new boardwalk, creating an exciting link between the theatre, Hertford Castle grounds and the castle.

Theatres will be allowed to reopen at Step 3 of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

Creatives at Hertford Theatre plan to briefly reopen the venue's doors from May 17 for three weeks to say goodbye to patrons before the redevelopment begins in the summer.

A short programme of live work will include a new Horrible Histories stage show, Twirlywoos Live and a very special 'Celebrating Hertford Theatre' performance featuring former panto cast members.

The theatre's socially distanced cinema will return, too, before the venue in The Wash will close to the public from Monday, June 7 in preparation for works to commence in the summer/autumn.

The next stage of the project is appointing a main contractor.

For more on the development, visit www.eastherts.gov.uk/theatredevelopment

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