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Leicester theatre extension plans set to be rejected


Plans to expand a theatre are likely to be rejected after a single objection was lodged.

Leicester Drama Society is seeking permission to add a six-storey extension to the 1930s-built, 350-seat Little Theatre, in Dover Street, Leicester.

Planning officers at the city council have received 19 letters of support for the scheme from amateur dramatics enthusiasts and The Theatre Trust.

However, they have also had one letter objecting to it from an agent for BPS, representing overseas investors in a next-door block of flats, who raised concerns about the extension blocking light to the property.

Officers have recommended to councillors meeting on Wednesday that they reject the scheme.

The society wants to build the extension, on stilts, over a car park.

It would include rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, a green room for the actors and storage space for sets.

Drama society chairman Rob Thirlby said: "We have had a lot of support from people since our proposal was written about in the Mercury.

"It was very pleasing but when we found out about the recommendation we were a bit shocked.

"It is not a numbers game but there was only one objection. I think a resident in a flat did not like it and has stirred things up a bit.

"We are going to do our best to garner support from councillors.

"The planning officers' report says what a wonderful thing the project would be but at the end suddenly does a U-turn and recommends refusal."

The theatre, where Lord Attenborough and rock star Jon Lord have trodden the boards, has not had significant redevelopment since a rebuilding in the late 1950s following a fire.

Mr Thirlby said the future success of the venue depended on the redevelopment.

Theatre-goer Jim Matthews, from Thurcaston, said: "The society members have been excellent custodians of the building, which is important in the cultural life of the city.

"It has accommodated top-class live entertainment for longer than any building in the city except De Montfort Hall.

"If it was just a bit bigger it could do much more. More space for bigger and heavier scenery would permit bigger and more ambitious shows."

Peter Butlin, of BPS, was unavailable for comment yesterday but his letter to planners said the extension was "of great concern".

He said: "The light to a number of flats looking out to the car park will be blocked completely."

He also said the car park was a point of access for emergency vehicles which must remain.

Planning officers said the scheme should be turned down because the proposed extension would be of "excessive height and mass" and would have a significant impact on neighbouring properties.

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