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Plans for Ovalhouse Brixton move given green light by council

Architect's image for Ovalhouse's new home in Brixton. Photo: Picture Plane Ltd Architect's image for Ovalhouse's new home in Brixton. Photo: Picture Plane Ltd
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South London theatre Ovalhouse is to move to a new venue in Brixton after plans were given the green light by its local council.

The organisation is currently based at a venue opposite the Oval cricket ground, but has been planning to move to a new purpose-built home in Brixton to gain more theatre space and better disabled access.

Now granted planning permission by Brixton Council, the new building on Somerleyton Road will house two theatres, one with 120 seats, and the other with around 70. There will also be seven flexible studio spaces for rehearsals and community projects.

The arts centre’s director Deborah Bestwick claimed the new centre would provide “facilities for the artists of the 21st century, a venue for the audiences of Brixton and beyond and a place where young people can take their place amongst the artists of the future”.

She said: “We are delighted with this decision, which is an important step towards building a bold new contemporary theatre in a town centre that used to have no less than seven theatres.”

She added: “The work we have done so far with the architects is like building a script – looking at a rough draft, testing it in consultation – now we are ready to start the process of making it real.”

The planned move was recently backed by Pierce Brosnan, who gained his first acting experience at Ovalhouse when he was a teenager.

Welcoming the council’s approval, Brosnan said: “The fact that planning permission has been granted for a new venue in the heart of Brixton means that it will continue to offer such opportunities to today’s young people.

“This will enable Ovalhouse to continue to operate as the dynamic and thriving organisation it has always been – a vital asset to its local community, to the wider London public and to the creative world as a whole.”

Support for the new building has also been voiced by the Theatres Trust and director Paulette Randall – who lives in Brixton.

She described Ovalhouse as a “vibrant, exciting and invaluable centre for the arts”, and added: “The thought of having that on my own doorstep is brilliant. It’s like having your best friend and favourite colleague move in next door. This is fantastic news.”