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Pop-up Shakespeare Theatre at Blenheim Palace gets green light

Colour illustration of the pop-up Shakespeare theatre at Blenheim Palace Colour illustration of the pop-up Shakespeare theatre at Blenheim Palace
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Planning permission has been granted for a pop-up Shakespearean theatre in the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

The company behind the plans is Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, whose pop-up Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre launched in York last year and will return again in 2019.

The temporary theatres in both York and Blenheim Palace are inspired by the London Rose Playhouse, which was built in 1587.

They each have a capacity of 900 and are housed within a “Shakespearean village” with food and drink stalls.

Planning permission was granted by West Oxfordshire District Council for the Blenheim Palace venue on January 7, subject to some conditions as concerns were raised over the potential impact of tourism on the world heritage site.

The venue will be based at Blenheim Palace from July 8 to September 7, with four Shakespeare plays running in repertory. Details of the season are yet to be announced.

Chief executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall, said: “We are delighted that the planning has been approved and look forward to bringing Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre to the amazing treasure house that is Blenheim Palace.”

Despite planning being granted, Phil Shaw, development manager at West Oxfordshire District Council, said there were “considerable planning issues” with the application due to its location on a world heritage site.

He said: “Members needed to balance the great weight we must give to preserving such heritage assets against tourism and other benefits arising from allowing the scheme to proceed.

“In this instance, and because the consent was time limited and entirely reversible, it was decided the cultural, education and tourism benefits coupled with securing a management plan to assist in controlling the impacts of other events on site justified allowing the theatre on a temporary basis for four months only.”

He added that the impact of the theatre would be assessed, and there was a possibility for permanent planning consent to be given to a similar structure on a “less constrained” site in the area.

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