Exciting plans to create a “world class” centre for music in Leeds complete with a restaurant and education suite have been approved.
Opera North is due to create improved facilities for artists and audiences attending performances at the Howard Assembly Room in New Briggate.
The venue, which is programmed and managed by Opera North but currently accessed via Leeds Grand Theatre, will have its own dedicated entrance and box office next to the restaurant, with a new atrium space providing direct stairs and lift access.
And the restaurant and bar is also set to replace a row of four vacant shops underneath its current performance space, proposals which have been approved by Leeds City Council.
Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North, said: “Following this successful outcome for our planning application, we will now move forward with the redevelopment work to create a truly world-class arts hub to meet the needs of our audiences, our artistic company, and our home city of Leeds.”
He said that private and public funding has already been secured for the £18m project.
That will be supplemented through a fundraising campaign in the autumn.
Since its opening in 2009 following a restoration, the 300-seat venue has been celebrated for its programme of film screenings, children’s operas, jazz, world music, folk, classical concerts and more.
Coun Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds City Council, said that “Opera North has been a cultural gem in Leeds for many years” and added that the authority’s executive board backing the plan recognised the company’s “huge contribution to the city”.