Designers chosen for Chester theatre

Bennetts Associates Architects, the practice behind the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Straford-upon-Avon, has been appointed by Cheshire West & Chester Council to design Chester's new £38m theatre.

Bennetts heads a team that includes theatre consultancy Charcoalblue and engineer Buro Happold.

The same architectural team completed the modernisation of the home of Shakespearian theatre in November 2010.

Simon Erridge, director of Bennetts Associates, said: "This is one of the most important theatre projects in the UK at the moment and we can't wait to get started.

"Building a new theatre is a fantastic opportunity in any city; attracting new and diverse audiences, providing a cultural focus, and influencing the character of its surroundings.

"Chester's site is superbly located in the historic city centre. By working in and around the existing listed buildings, we have the opportunity to create a unique new theatre which retains strong links with the city's rich heritage."

Chester OdeonCllr Mike Jones, leader of CWAC, said: "I believe we have secured an unrivalled blend of expertise and flair; talent that will produce a state-of-the art theatre vital to our aspirations as an international visitor centre."

The concept team will contribute to the council's bid for £5m from the Arts Council when the next funding window opens in the coming months.

If it is decided to incorporate a new central library within the one acre site, details of the schemes will be included as part of the bid.

Project manager Buro Four is advising CWAC on the new theatre, scheduled to open its doors at the city's former Odeon Cinema in December 2015. Buro Four worked on Liverpool's Bluecoat and Florence Institute and Gorton Monastery in Manchester

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