More than £100 million has been secured to fund the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Company's main theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The RSC yesterday said five gifts from private philanthropists totalling £22 million had helped it meet its target of £100 million to redevelop the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The company now hopes to raise a further £12.8 million through a public appeal, which will allow it to improve its original plans.
The £100 million milestone was reached as the RSC received planning consent for the major element of the scheme, which will retain parts of the current theatre.
Stratford District Council passed a resolution to grant planning permission to the project this afternoon following two years of public consultation. The plans are now being referred to the Government Office for the West Midlands and if formal consent is given in the coming weeks, the project will move into the construction phase.
In a joint statement, Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood, the RSC's artistic and executive directors, said: "We are extremely grateful to everyone who has come together to bring us to this moment where we have a project that the council approves."
A new 1,000-seat "thrust stage" auditorium will be created under the scheme, which will incorporate the facade of the current Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
A new tower will also give visitors a platform from which to view Shakespeare's birthplace, the school he attended and the church in which he is buried. The work is scheduled for completion in 2010.