Kier wins £37.5m Chester theatre job

Kier Construction and architects Bennetts Associates have been selected to convert the former Odeon cinema in Northgate Street into a new library, theatre and cinema.

Kier delivered the Llandudno Theatre, Floral Pavilion in New Brighton and the restoration and extension of Liverpool's Bluecoat Arts Centre.

Chester theatre external renderBennetts had already worked on the concept proposal for Chester's new theatre and was expected to be retained for the remainder of the project. The practice was responsible for the design of the Stirling Prize shortlisted transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Gary Wintersgill, managing director of Kier Construction's operations in the north, said he would aim to achieve 70% local labour and sub-contracts during the project's 19-month build programme. There will be 15 building trade apprenticeships and 38 weeks of training opportunities for local schools and colleges.

The planning application was originally due to be submitted in summer 2013 but that date was revised to May 2014. In February this year the council's bid for £5m from the Arts Council England towards the project was rejected.

Work on site could begin in February 2015, Kier said.

The 800-seat theatre will be housed in a new building, linked to the existing by open foyer spaces. The grade 2-listed 1936 Odeon building will be restored and converted into a library, café, study spaces and 120-seat screen located on the former cinema balcony.

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