Urgent £1m for leaking Leeds Playhouse roof repairs signed off

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An urgent £1m package to fix Leeds Playhouse’s leaky roof has been signed off.

Repair work will begin within days at the venue, with a Leeds City Council report saying water ingress in the popular theatre was now a “regular occurrence” in several parts of the building.

The theatre, which is owned by the council, only reopened to the public after a renovation in September 2019, before then being forced to shut again because of the Covid pandemic.

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The report claimed the roof had been leaking for a number of months.The report claimed the roof had been leaking for a number of months.
The report claimed the roof had been leaking for a number of months.

The council’s report said that “patch” jobs on the roof had failed to solve the problem at the Quarry Hill venue.

Although publicly funded initially, the Playhouse will repay the money through its own reserves and grants.

Noting its importance to the city, the council’s report on the works said: “The Playhouse contributes a huge amount to community development and social inclusion agendas.”

It added the venue has a “formidable” track record of, “Engaging with all communities, particularly the most marginalised and giving them a voice that would otherwise remain unheard.”

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Opened by the acclaimed actress and onetime Bond girl Dame Diana Rigg in 1990, the theatre started life as the West Yorkshire Playhouse, before being rebranded to ‘Leeds’ in 2018.

Although local authorities are normally supposed to put building contracts out to tender in the interests of value for money, the council has enacted a waiver on that process because of the urgency of the works.

The report said: “The contractor has already developed a detailed knowledge and understanding of the project as a whole and, is best equipped to ensure that the works are delivered on time to coincide with the theatre’s new performance season and before the onset of the worst of the winter weather.”

The authority added that in light of this it was “Considered neither practical or offering value for money to seek to procure another specialist contractor to undertake the works.”

David Spereall , Local Democracy Reporting Service