Stage is set for more new homes
Medway’s Theatre Royal has been
the topic of much conversation since its closure in the 1950s.
The Chatham theatre was once the largest theatre outside the
West End, with stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Max Miller gracing
Built in 1899 at
the western end of Chatham High Street, the 3,000 seat theatre was
originally owned by C and L Barnard, who also owned the local music
decline in theatre-goers, the Victorian building closed in 1955 and
has been unoccupied since. In the 1980s a campaign was started
by local people to restore the building to its former glory and to
reopen it as the largest theatre in the region. However, in 2002,
the volunteers of the Theatre Royal Chatham Trust were forced to
abandon their campaign to raise the £20 million needed to
restore or meet the costs of preserving the entire building.
The site of the old
Theatre Royal in Chatham is to become affordable homes for rent and
Heart of Medway
Housing Association, part of the mhs homes group, is developing
flats in conjunction with Medway Council and developer Orchard
Construction and Developments.
Two new blocks of
flats will be constructed on the land where part of the Theatre
Royal once stood. This derelict part of the theatre was demolished
last year following planning permission for the development of new
homes on the site.
Landlord Heart of
Medway Housing Association will have one of the blocks of 12 flats
for a mixed affordable tenure, while the other block will be sold
by the contractor Orchard Construction and Developments.
Each one of the flats
will have underground parking. Two of the ground floor flats for
affordable rent will be fully adapted for wheelchair users and four
of the properties will be available for shared
Roger Thomas from
Orchard Construction and Developments said: "We have been working
very closely with the planning department at Medway Council to make
sure that the front part of the development which faces on to the
High Street is restored.
building facia remains. The classically styled Victorian front,
with columns and arches will be restored and utilised as part of
the new development with the possibility of a restaurant or other
commercial use on the ground floor."
mhs homes is
contributing £1.6 million towards the development of which £614,000
has been granted by the Homes and Communities Agency.
With property prices
more than seven times the average wage and 9000 households on
Medway’s housing waiting list, Caroline Proverbs, Operations
Director for mhs homes said providing affordable homes is more
important than ever before.
She said: "We work
very closely with the council to provide quality accommodation that
is both affordable and sustainable. These new homes will be built
to level three of the Code for Sustainable Homes and full Lifetime
Homes criteria which means that they will provide high levels of
energy efficiency for residents."
Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Strategic Development Cllr
Jane Chitty said: "This site has been a challenging one and it has
been sad to see the demise of the building over a number of
"I am pleased that
this development will bring about changes that are both
aesthetically nice but provide valuable housing. For those that
remember the Theatre Royal, as I do, to retain its façade is a way
to recognise the past.
"This has been a great
example of partnership working and the council has played its part
in ensuring a valuable and important outcome. This development will
transform a part of Chatham and give it a new and refreshing