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Major expansion of Yeovil Octagon Theatre given initial approval by Council

The £23 million pound project is set to go ahead with the South Somerset Council giving plans a thumbs up

An artist's impression of the space

South Somerset's District Executive committee have approved 'on principle' to expand the Yeovil Octagon Theatre.

The £23 million pound project will see the venue completely transformed, taking capacity from just over 600 to close to 900. According to the proposals, the venue will be "fully accessible throughout, add two additional boutique spaces which could potentially be a cinema/studio plus and additional cinema".

The approval is not a done deal however, and while the project has been approved at this stage, it "requires sign-off from councillors...with the business plan, finance plans and planning permission needing to be approved". The process and construction are expected to take around three years. Given this initial thumbs-up however, a complete sign-off is much more likely – as the committee states, there exists "a sound business case for how it could be delivered and paid back".

Councillor Mike Best, portfolio holder for Health & Well-Being at South Somerset District Council, said: "I am delighted that these proposals were agreed in principle which would see major investment into our local economy and huge benefits to the health and well-being of our residents. We have more important steps to take in the coming months and the feedback and support from our residents has been very encouraging."

Adam Burgan, Arts and Entertainment Venues Manager, said: "This was a very important day in the history of The Octagon Theatre and a momentous decision along the way to transforming the theatre. All the staff, volunteers and I are incredibly excited about the potential to build on our success and improve the experience of visiting the theatre for all our visitors. Many of our team are currently redeployed to support the rollout of the vaccine so this has been very welcome news that when they return there is much to look forward to."

The venue says the expansion will allow it to house large-scale shows and produce major work that wasn't able to be presented in the area in the past. Over the last decade its annual audiences have swollen from around 80,000 to close to 130,000, and as such the move to grow the venue feels justified. Public consultation is expected to take place.

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