Tees

Stockton Globe Theatre: Over-budget renovation to get extra £6.5m

The Globe Theatre, Stockton
Image caption The Globe theatre closed in 1997 having been used as a bingo hall since 1977

A council is to borrow an extra £6.5m so an already over-budget renovation of an Art Deco theatre can be completed.

Work on Stockton's Globe Theatre began in 2011 with a budget of £4m being shared between Stockton Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

But structural problems have pushed the total bill up to an estimated £26.5m, with the council's share rocketing from an initial £1m to more than £22m.

Councillors heard the consequences of not finishing the work would be dire.

The Grade II-listed theatre closed in 1997 having been used as a bingo hall for the previous 20 years.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The funding will help transform the theatre into a live music and comedy venue

The renovation project has been dogged by structural issues, including the discovery of unsupported walls, rotting timbers and a weak roof.

A special meeting of the authority on Thursday heard from one councillor who branded the situation "a comedy of errors", according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Independent Steve Walmsley said: "People are angry out there - we've got a period where people are being clobbered for all kinds of things and we see this £22.5m - it's a big deal.

"When does this finish? It's a comedy of errors."

Image copyright Stockton Council
Image caption Artist's impression of revamped Globe Theatre

But Nigel Cooke, cabinet member for regeneration and housing, said: "Every day this is delayed, there is a risk costs will go up further.

"If this project was to fail, not only would we have responsibility for that building, there is also the potential we may have to pay back hard-won lottery money." 

The extra £6.5m of borrowing will cost the council £325,000 per year - taking the taxpayer contribution to £22.5m.

Council bosses estimate the revamped theatre will bring 200,000 visitors to the town and generate about £18m a year for the local economy.

The theatre is owned by property firm Jomast, with the council having signed a 40 year-lease in 2016, which includes an option to buy it outright for £200,000 in 2031.

Work is now due to be completed in November 2020.

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