Leeds’s West Yorkshire Playhouse revamp cost to rise by £2m

The new city-facing entrance of West Yorkshire Playhouse
The new city-facing entrance of West Yorkshire Playhouse
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AN ambitious project to revamp the West Yorkshire Playhouse is to cost almost £2m more than envisaged, according to a new report.

The progress report, issued to senior councillors ahead of a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board next week, reveals the project needs an extra £1.99m to complete the work.

The £15.8m scheme will create improved access to the theatre and a new city-facing entrance along with a new studio theatre space in the Bramall Rock Void. Two new public spaces at Gateway Court and Playhouse Square will link the theatre with other major ongoing developments in the area.

The board will be asked to approve the spending of an additional £1.44m for the work at the meeting on June 27.

An additional £550,000 will come from West Yorkshire Playhouse by increasing its fundraising target.

The report said that most of the sub-contractor pricing for stage four of the design proposals was higher than the market testing had indicated and the allowances made in the project cost plan.

“The feedback from the subcontractors was that the project was considered to be complex, with inherent risks for particular trades by comparison with other competing projects that they were tendering for and, therefore, had priced the Playhouse works accordingly,” the report said.

The Playhouse has entertained audiences, in total, for nearly half a century.

With the 50th anniversary fast approaching in 2020, this refurbishment aims to ensure that people of all ages will have the chance to be inspired and experience the very best that theatre has to offer for many years to come.

If the additional council funding is approved by executive board, the £15.8m redevelopment project, led in partnership with Leeds City Council, will be funded by £5.6m from the council, alongside a £6.6m Arts Council England contribution and £3.6m from the Playhouse’s own resources, including a fundraising target of £2.75m.

Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Working alongside partners, our shared commitment to the vision of a modern, 21st century Playhouse and the huge cultural, social and economic benefits it will bring to the city remains unwavering.

“The Playhouse remains an integral and much-loved part of Leeds’s cultural landscape, and this project is vital to ensuring its future is sustainable and that the theatre can continue to inspire and make an exceptional contribution to the arts and in communities across the city.” A planning application for the project was submitted and approved last year.

West Yorkshire Playhouse executive director Robin Hawkes said: “The redevelopment of the Playhouse together with the creation of a redeveloped and enhanced public realm and other developments here on Quarry Hill will create a major shift in Leeds’s cultural landscape.”