Kenilworth theatre vision moves closer to reality

There are plans to build a theatre between Kenilworth Library and Jubilee House.'MHLC-29-01-14 Talisman Jan52
There are plans to build a theatre between Kenilworth Library and Jubilee House.'MHLC-29-01-14 Talisman Jan52

A brand new Talisman Theatre build is back on the cards after a bid to halt the move was defeated by just one vote.

A decision by Warwick District Council’s executive to spend £26,000 on a feasibility study for a public service centre in Smalley Place was called in for further scrutiny.

Members of the all-party scrutiny and overview committee called for the spend to be postponed over fears that the build could end up costing taxpayers millions.

But this objection was defeated by 20 votes to 19 when the matter was discussed by the full council last week.

Leader of the council, Andrew Mobbs, said he hopes the original decision will stand when the executive members discuss the matter for a final time on February 12.

Overview and scrutiny chairman Cllr Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem, Abbey) described the scheme as “inspirational” but called for financial security to be put in place before anything progresses.

“I hope the executive will proceed a little more carefully and understand the financial implications of this,” she said. “Everyone agrees it is a splendid scheme which would be very popular. But it is not urgent and we need to be aware of where this money will come before we press ahead.”

The ambitious plans date back to 2004 when the concept of a new public service centre and community theatre were considered as part of the regeneration of Kenilworth.

Cllr Michael Coker (Con, Abbey) explained that this plan had been “extensively and successfully implemented” over the past decade including the opening of Jubilee House in 2012.

The community theatre and reception currently being discussed would form phase two of the plan and could cost millions to complete.

Cllr Coker said: “The idea of developing a public service centre has retained high levels of public support over the past 10 years, a position confirmed by the town council’s public consultation in 2013.

“The recent work by officers aimed to establish the feasibility of completing the public service centre and theatre project. Officers have identified that £26,000 is required to complete the feasibility study and this funding is the issue upon which councillors have been asked to decide.”

This amount has now been earmarked from funds following the sale of Wilton House. But all talks up to now on the proposed spend have been closed to the public and press.