Why we need Calverley Square according to the council
14th February 2019
THE Borough Council’s £90million development called Calverley Square features a 1,200-seat theatre, new council chambers, commercial office space, a new public square, an underground car park as well as improvements to the entrance of the Calverley Grounds.
The project’s roots go back to 2014, when a £1.5million bill to keep the Assembly Hall open resulted in the Cabinet seeking future alternatives.
The location for a new theatre and civic complex was agreed in 2016. A planning application was submitted in December 2017 and granted in May last year.
The development, solves two main issues for the council.
Firstly, it addresses the problem with the current town hall, namely that it is more than three times too large for the council’s current needs. It also lacks modernity, making it inflexible to work in.
Secondly, the Assembly Hall Theatre, while a much loved venue in the town, lacks the facilities expected by both audiences and producers for a modern facility.
Of course, the Assembly Hall could be renovated, at an expected cost of £31million, but that would mean the theatre would have to close for the duration of the improvements and also it would not solve all the problems.
The council has hired a well-respected expert from UK and US based Theatre Projects Consultant, John Riddell, to explain to the inquiry what the main problems are.
In his submission, he states: “Earlier work by the Council had identified that the refurbishment of the Assembly Hall Theatre would not deliver a suitable 1200 seat venue.
“Theatre Projects’ work on sizing of the new theatre stage, auditorium and fly-tower for the range of touring shows available, demonstrated that the Assembly Hall Theatre could not accommodate them.”
He highlights vehicle access and backstage infrastructure as one of the major problems with the Assembly Hall, as modern touring productions require good access to get sets and equipment in and out quickly.
“Vehicle access and loading arrangements for theatres are critical to the safe and effective operation,” he said, adding that the new theatre would be ‘a major improvement’ on the access and loading situation at the Assembly Hall Theatre.
If the council gets its way and the CPOs are confirmed, building work on the theatre and civic complex should begin in October 2019.