Royal Opera House £27m refurb wins planning permission
The Royal Opera House has been granted planning permission for a £27 million refurbishment scheme that will see its foyer and the Linbury Studio Theatre upgraded. In addition, a new public space is planned at the Covent Garden venue.
Westminster City Council approved planning permission for the project, called Open Up, which is focused on making the ROH more inviting to the public, and creating a better experience for visitors.
The auditorium of the 366-seat Linbury Studio Theatre will be redeveloped, as will the ROH’s foyer. The plans also include a new terrace for the Paul Hamlyn Hall as well as making the ROH’s creative, technical and educational work more visible.
Work is expected to get underway in early 2016 in the hope that the renovation of the Linbury – which will be renamed the Linbury Theatre – will be complete in time for the 2017/18 season.
ROH chief executive Alex Beard said the Linbury’s refurbishment would improve comfort for audiences, give the theatre better acoustics and create an auditorium with “greater personality”.
Beard said he hoped the project would make the experience of visiting the ROH “more enjoyable for both audiences and artists, and to a wider public, outside performance times and during the day”.
The ROH’s main 2,300-seat auditorium will remain open with a full programme throughout the process, which is expected to take about two years.
Robert Davis, who chaired Westminster Council’s planning committee for the scheme, said: “The ROH is addressing the concern that some have that it is seen as an elitist organisation, but it is the opposite. We are supportive of an attempt by them to be more accessible… not just when there’s an opera or a ballet on but at all times of the day.”
The designs have been drawn up by architecture firm Stanton Williams, which was also behind the extension to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and the 2002 redevelopment of the National Theatre’s foyer.
Alan Stanton, director of Stanton Williams, said: “The Open Up project’s principal objective is to transform the public’s experience of the Royal Opera House at its Covent Garden home. We want to bring a sense of the magic that is created each night on stage to the open public spaces for all to enjoy.