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Coronet Theatre in south London moves closer to demolition

The Coronet in Elephant and Castle. Photo: Nick Sarebi The Coronet in Elephant and Castle. Photo: Nick Sarebi
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Plans to demolish the Coronet Theatre in Elephant and Castle have been outlined in a redevelopment application submitted to the local council.

The south London venue, which was originally a theatre and now hosts club nights and music shows, has been under threat for some time and is scheduled to shut its doors early next year despite a long fight to keep it open. The venue opened in 1879 and is said to have hosted Charlie Chaplin when it operated as a theatre.

The Coronet’s management announced in September 2016 that it had agreed a lease extension with the site owner, taking it to January 2018, but at the time the building’s future remained uncertain.

Major redevelopment plans for the wider Elephant and Castle area have now been submitted to Southwark council. They detail the proposals for a mixed-used development comprising mainly of residential, retail and office space, and a new campus for the University of the Arts London College of Communications.

The plans would require the demolition of several buildings in the area, including the Coronet.

The application does include provision for a new cultural venue in the development, however few details are known, other than that it is billed as having a capacity of 500, set over two floors, and would be used primarily for music.

The Coronet can accommodate approximately 2,800 people.

The Theatres Trust has objected to the plans to demolish the current building, adding that the regeneration of the area “should not come at the expense of Elephant and Castle’s diverse cultural mix”.

“We strongly call for council to retain the Coronet Theatre, which is clearly a still viable and valuable operation, as part of this development,” planning adviser Ross Anthony said in a letter.

The Coronet is listed on the trust’s Theatre Buildings at Risk register and the letter continues to say that the new venue proposed “does not represent a replacement cultural facility of equal value to the Coronet”.

“This application quite clearly does not retain the Coronet or provide a replacement facility of an appropriate size or nature, and it fails to adequately demonstrate that the building is an unviable or surplus facility,” the trust said, adding that should the council proceed with the application, an operator for the new venue should be ensured before planning permission is granted. This would make sure the operator is involved in the design and planning phase.

The plans are currently in consultation until February, after which time they will be considered by the council.

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