After a series of delays to its #12 million redevelopment which resulted in the cancellation of this year's pantomime, Coventry's Belgrade Theatre has announced a new reopening date of September 2007.
The main construction element of the theatre’s project will be completed by next spring, at which time the remaining work, including the installation of a brand new ventilation system in the main house and the complete fit-out of the second auditorium, will be undertaken.
"The delay, blamed on various unanticipated problems in joining the new extension to the original 1950s listed building, recalls the similar problems – including the discovery of a previously unsuspected stream running beneath the building – which beset Birmingham Hippodrome's redevelopment a few years ago. The unexpectedly long closure left the Hippodrome with financial problems which it has only just overcome.
The Belgrade says that the delayed re-opening will provide better synergy with the neighbouring Belgrade Plaza development, which will involve major construction work next to the theatre.
Another positive is that, if the Belgrade is successful in its grant application to conduct a separate phase of work that would include the renovation of the exterior of the theatre, this would also be completed without necessitating a separate closure period.
David Burbidge, chairman of the Belgrade board, said: "I’m reminded of the adage that says you can either do a job quickly or you can do it well – and whilst we’ve all been very disappointed and frustrated by having to delay the re-opening of the theatre, it is imperative that we take the necessary time to get the job done to the highest possible standards.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Belgrade and I am certain that it will be worth waiting a few more months to ensure we finish the project with a fantastic new landmark building that is capable of providing quality theatre for the people of Coventry and Warwickshire for years to come.