Arches to become stage door for Cornerhouse

Manchester City Council has tweaked designs for the controversial new Cornerhouse and Library Theatre building to incorporate neighbouring railway arches.

The council executive will next week discuss a progress report for the new home of the recently merged Cornerhouse and Library Theatre Company.

Planning permission was granted last month and the budget has been set for the £25m building, part of the First Street development by Ask. However, additions have been made to the application to integrate the four viaduct arches on Whitworth Street West next to the cultural centre.

One arch would be developed to include the stage door entrance and a meeting room and education suite for the merged Cornerhouse and Library Theatre.

The remaining three arches will provide future expansion space for the cultural facility and may be glazed to 'enliven the street scene', according to planning officers.

The relocation of the Cornerhouse cinema from its existing base on Oxford Road to First Street has attracted criticism from residents.

The new venue, designed by Mecanoo architects, will have a 500-seat theatre, a 150-seat second theatre space, 5,000 sq ft double-height gallery space, up to five cinema screens, learning spaces, digital and broadcast production facilities, a café bar, restaurant and workshop spaces.

Work will start on site by the end of the year with the new cultural centre opening in 2014.
The initial integration of the arches will not be funded through the budget for the cultural facility, but as part of £2.5m from the council, which will also be used for First Street North enabling works.

Manchester City Council has committed £19m of borrowing to fund the new First Street cultural centre. The remaining £6m will be met by external partners; £1m from donations and fundraising and £5m from Arts Council England funding, subject to final approval.

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