The charity-run arts venue, based in the former Decimus Burton church in the town centre, has secured funding of £506,700 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund [NLHF].
The money comes in addition to a £300,000 grant by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council as well as a previous £26,200 NLHF grant, both awarded to the theatre in 2019.
The new £500,000 grant secures the venue’s £1.5million improvement plan, designed to enable key repairs, heritage conservation and to upgrade the building’s facilities.
As part of the redevelopment, the clock tower is to be converted into an ‘engaging heritage space’, including a reworking of four floors and a 360-degree viewing platform at the top.
Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are thrilled to support Trinity Theatre – a beloved community institution in Tunbridge Wells and a vibrant arts venue – in fulfilling its ambitions to create a clock tower space and improve heritage engagement by a wider group of people, as well as expand activity plans and income generation resources.”
Trinity says the proposed changes to the former Victorian church have come following an extensive period of consultation over the last few years, gaining over 2,500 responses.
“This project has been three years in the planning, and we’re delighted that, thanks to a development grant from The National Heritage Lottery Fund, it’s a big step further to becoming a reality,” said Alison Kemp, Trinity Theatre Grants Manager.
She added: “Trinity is very much a community venue and we’re really looking forward to sharing our plans with local people.”
Following planning permission approval, Trinity obtained listed building consent for the development project in May 2020, and appointed architects Kaner Olette of Tunbridge Wells to oversee the revamp.
Architect Michael Kaner said: “We are looking forward to the challenge of successfully integrating the new access and interpretation interventions into the Grade II-listed structure to provide a memorable new heritage-based experience for Kent.”
A tender process for contractors to build the clock tower space will occur later this summer, with an intended winter start to construction.
However, the theatre says they have had to put fundraising for the project ‘on hold’ until after the current pandemic, as emergency fundraising is currently taking place to support Trinity’s future following the pandemic.
During its closure, Trinity was awarded more than £350,000 from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund to help it replace lost income.
Alex Green, Chief Executive Officer at Trinity Theatre, said: “Following a challenging year for us all, I’m really excited that this long-term plan to invest in our home, and expand what we offer visitors and the local community, is now moving forwards into its final stages.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the project’s end result.”