Construction of new Derby theatre cancelled with 'levelling up' money split between existing venues

091123 DERBY THEATRE - ITV News Central - Google Street View - Ellen Knight
Some of the funding will be channeled into Derby Theatre Credit: Google Street View

The construction of a new purpose-built 'learning theatre' in Derby has been shelved due to "economic challenges."

Funding for the project on the site of the Assembly Rooms had been supplied by the Government as part of the Levelling Up Fund.

The "collective decision" was made by Derby City Council, Derby Theatre, and the University of Derby, who have said "recent economic challenges of high inflation and interest rates" have led to "significant increases in both construction and borrowing costs."

The £20m 'levelling up' money originally given to spend on the new theatre will now be divided between redevelopment for the Guildhall Theatre and Derby Theatre venues.

The council acknowledged the decision was "disappointing for all three partners and for Derby's citizens", but said they "remain optimistic about the opportunities available to strengthen Derby's cultural heart." 

Council leader Baggy Shanker said: "This is a very positive outcome for the city. With the scheme we inherited for the former Assembly Rooms proving unviable, we could have faced the situation where we had to give £20 million of funding back to the Government.

"The financial landscape for local government means that we can no longer take on the risk of proceeding with schemes of this scale, which could put us in the same difficult situation affecting some other local authorities who have had to declare effective bankruptcy. 

"I’m delighted that we can keep this investment in our city.

"We will now work to find an alternative solution for the Assembly Rooms, which in my view and many others’, needs demolishing as soon as possible to enable a fresh start."

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