Lancaster theatre reveals £2m plan for new foyer, bar and performance space

An artist's impression of the new look foyer at The Grand Theatre in Lancaster
An artist's impression of the new look foyer at The Grand Theatre in Lancaster

Plans for a “stunning” new £2m glass extension to Lancaster’s oldest theatre have been revealed.

The Grand Theatre, in St Leonard Gate, has submitted the plans for a new foyer, street level bar, studio performance and meeting space, and disabled access in what is currently the theatre’s staff car park.

Grand  Theatre, Lancaster

Grand Theatre, Lancaster

The Grade II Listed theatre, built in 1782, is owned by amateur dramatics group Footlights under a charitable trust, and has already raised £500,000 towards the estimated £2m needed for the new development.

If planning permission is granted at a city council planning meeting scheduled for January 7, there will be an intensive fundraising campaign with a target build date starting August 2021 during the summer shutdown.

Mike Hardy, who has submitted the plans on behalf of The Grand, said: “The stunning design produced by architects 3D Reid has been submitted for planning permission.

“The Grade II listed theatre needs more space to receive the increasing audience numbers and also needs to develop additional income streams as it does not receive any funding.The new plans are a lot better than the original ideas, going back as far as 2008.

“We’ve had time to think about what we need and how we will make it work, and we’ve now got a design that satisfies everything.

“Our current foyer is very small and quickly gets congested, so this will make it far more comfortable, and the bar will be moved down to street level with a much bigger serving area.

“We also plan to lower the car parking area so it blends in better with the surrounding area and makes a lovely plaza space. We’re really excited about the future.”

Part of the plans include the removal of a ‘lean to’ attached to the back of the Lancaster Music Co-Op building in Lodge Street, and the repair to exposed facades.

The proposed design also includes improved disabled access with a platform lift to all seating levels including the lower circle and a new protected fire escape from the circle.

The Grand Theatre is Britain’s third oldest theatre having been in near continuous use since 1782.

It seats 457 on two levels. It is owned by the Lancaster Footlights who started performing in the 1920s and bought the Grand Theatre in 1951 to save it from demolition.

Over the years the building has been altered and damaged by fire, but overall retains its historic Neo-Classical external appearance with an early-20th century interior. The building is constructed in sandstone rubble, with a rendered façade.

There were once terraced buildings to the north of the theatre which were demolished in the 1960s for a link road which was not developed.

Go on a virtual tour of the theatre and find out more about fundraising efforts and how to get involved at www.lancastergrand.co.uk.