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£5k funding boost sparks fresh hope for Burnley Empire

Inside the derelict Empire Theatre in Burnley. Photo: Fragglehunter

Campaigners fighting to save the derelict Burnley Empire Theatre are one step closer to bringing the building back to life after receiving nearly £5,000 in viability study funding.

An initial viability study conducted at the end of last year [1] confirmed that it could be possible to restore the Empire, and paved the way for a second study, which can now take place as a result of £4,900 of funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund.

The funding, which the Theatres Trust applied for, will be matched by money raised by the Burnley Empire Theatres Trust.

The second phase will allow the group to undertake a building evaluation and assess whether the grade II-listed theatre has a commercially viable future.

Burnley Empire has appeared on the Theatres Trust’s list of most at risk theatre buildings for the past eight years, topping the list in 2016 [2].

The building narrowly avoided being sold at auction last year [3], but was removed from the listing by its owner after strong objections by campaigners.

Claire Appleby, architecture adviser at the Theatres Trust, said the body was delighted to be supporting the local community in trying to rescue the Empire, and would continue working with campaigners, the local council and other stakeholders in working to identify a future for the theatre.

“We are incredible grateful for this support from the Architectural Heritage Fund, which will play an important role in this,” she added.