Oldham Coliseum secures £7.1m grant

Revised plans are being worked up for Oldham’s new Coliseum Theatre, after confirmation that the project has won a £7.1m grant from Arts Council England.

The theatre has long been planning a move from Fairbottom Street to a new facility on Southgate Street, on a plot that is currently used as a car park.

An earlier scheme connected the new-build theatre to the grade two-listed Victorian library building next door, which is being converted into a Heritage & Arts Centre.

Designs by architect Mecanoo for the linked Heritage Centre and Coliseum were approved in 2015, and a start on site was initially scheduled for 2016, subject to successful Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council bids.

In June, the council secured £3.4m for the Heritage Centre from the Heritage Lottery Fund, alongside £4m from local philanthropist Sir Norman Stoller, enabling it to start work on the conversion while it progressed with a separate funding application for the theatre.

Now that the grant has been approved, the council and Coliseum are altering the plans, in order to give the Coliseum its own entrance onto Union Street, and extend the previously approved studio theatre to provide space for up to 220 people, alongside the construction of a 550-seat auditorium.

Mecanoo is due to submit a new planning application by March 2017. Construction work would then start in April 2018 with the venue set to open in 2020.

Cllr Jean Stretton, Oldham Council leader, said: “The support and shared vision of Arts Council England has been vital in this and we’re extremely grateful for this significant financial contribution which will help us to realise our ambitions for a fantastic Cultural Quarter.

“Arts, culture and heritage matter. They can inspire education across all ages and communities, boost the local economy, and attract tourism.

“Oldham Coliseum Theatre is a hugely-respected institution in the borough, and beyond. It’s a major cultural asset that also delivers lots of important educational work. This relocation will widen its profile and ensure it has a bright future as part of our wider regeneration plans.”

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