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Union Theatre plans move to nearby purpose-built venue

Sasha Regan, artistic director of the Union Theatre in London
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The Union Theatre in south London is preparing to move to a new purpose-built venue opposite its current premises in April.

Plans have been submitted to Southwark Council to convert a nearby railway arch into a performance space, which would include an 86-seat black box theatre – almost double the venue’s current 50-person capacity.

The proposals also feature dressing rooms, a restaurant and a separate rehearsal space, which the Union Theatre currently does not have.

Network Rail, which owns the arch the theatre is currently housed within and also the one it will move to, is assisting the company with the planned move.

Last year the railway operator threatened to evict the theatre company from its current home because it intended to convert the space into offices.

A petition set up by local businesses to fight these original plans – which included a wider regeneration of the area meaning other organisations would also have to move – attracted more than 10,000 signatures. This led to Network Rail withdrawing its plans.

Union Theatre artistic director Sasha Regan said Network Rail now planned to create a “cultural hub”.

She said: “The plan is that the new venue and the outside area will be a cultural hub with restaurants, bars and small arts organisations. So they [Network Rail] have completely gone against the original plan which was just offices.”

Regan added that details of the proposed, new lease for the theatre were still being finalised and that the cost of conversion was not yet confirmed.

A decision from Southwark Council on the planning application is expected by the end of September.

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