Secretive plan for new Kenilworth theatre sparks row

Building work continuing as part of the redevelopment of Northampton Railway Station.
Building work continuing as part of the redevelopment of Northampton Railway Station.

Hushed plans for a brand new theatre complex in Smalley Place are one step closer after it was agreed behind closed doors to take the million pound scheme forward.

Plans to build on land between Jubilee House and Kenilworth Library have been in the pipeline for years.

The proposed public service centre would include a new home for the Talisman Theatre and a reception to bring all three buildings together in an “ integrated service hub”.

Late last year, Warwick District Council’s executive agreed to spend £26,000 on a feasibility study in meetings closed off to the public for confidentiality.

But the decision has been called in over fears the council has “no way” to fund the millions needed for the build.

The matter will discussed by the full council on January 22 after the overview and scrutiny committee voted to call the decision in.

It is likely to remain as a confidential item with members of the public exempt.

Cllr Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem, Abbey) chair of the committee which met on Tuesday, said: “We called this in so everyone can have a vote.

“While some feel it is important the scheme moves to the next stage there is no thought for where the money will come from, this is potentially a big risk for the council.

“No one is opposing the scheme but the council will be landed with a cost of several million pounds without proper financial plans in place.

“Should the taxpayer be paying to help fund a private enterprise, that is the question a lot of people are asking.

“The district council has a really tight budget and can’ be left liable for these costs.”

It is understood the Talisman Theatre would be expected to contribute the amount raised from the sale of their building in Barrow Road.

Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Con, Parkhill) insisted the money to be used at this stage is already earmarked for Kenilworth after the sale of Wilton House.

“All we have agreed is a feasibility study so we can continue the growth of Kenilworth town centre,” he told the KWN.

“This amount will be covered by this so-called ‘Kenilworth money’ so we can look to the potential of this plan and how it would be funded.

“My hope is that common sense prevails and allows for the growth of our town.”