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Burnley Empire given fresh hope after auction called off

Inside the derelict Empire Theatre in Burnley. Photo: Fragglehunter Inside the derelict Empire Theatre in Burnley. Photo: Fragglehunter
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Plans to save the Empire Theatre in Burnley have taken a step forward after the building’s owner removed it from auction.

The derelict theatre is currently owned by the Crown Estate by default, and had previously been offered to local campaign group Burnley Empire Theatre Trust free of charge.

Earlier this month the Duchy of Lancaster placed the building up for auction as the trust had not yet accepted its offer to take on the theatre – which the trust said was a “reckless” move.

But the auction, planned for October 18, did not go ahead after an agreement was reached between the two parties.

The trust is not yet a registered charity and had been waiting on the results of a viability study for the theatre before it finished the process – and therefore became able to take ownership of the building.

A spokeswoman for the trust told The Stage: “Over the past week, the Duchy has been made more aware of the history of the Empire and the group who have formed to work towards saving the Empire.

“With this in mind, we are very proud and grateful to say that the Duchy is keen to see the theatre remain in the community. We cannot thank the Duchy of Lancaster enough for giving us this amount of support and we now continue our journey beside them.”

The trust has been liaising with the Duchy of Lancaster through the Theatres Trust, and is now negotiating a timescale for the transfer of the theatre’s ownership.

Formal results from the viability study have not yet been published, but the spokeswoman for Burnley Empire Theatre Trust said the group was now pushing ahead with creating a business plan for the venue.

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