A campaign to save the derelict Burnley Empire Theatre has taken a major step forward, with the National Trust backing the restoration of the building.
The conservation organisation joins the Theatres Trust and the Burnley Empire Theatre Trust, a group formed by residents, in support of bringing the venue back into use.
Ranked 14th on the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register in 2018, the grade II-listed venue has been disused for 20 years.
The theatre recently suffered a setback to future restoration plans after planning permission was approved for a cafe in the foyer, which will limit access to the building and decrease capacity in the stalls.
Now the National Trust has joined the campaign to save the theatre, and, although the organisation is not looking to acquire the building, it will work with the other campaigning bodies to plan a way forward.
Matt Doran, head of the external partnerships team at the National Trust, said: “The Empire is a real hidden gem in the heart of Burnley. We want to work with others to explore how the restoration and future use of this wonderful building can be achieved. Success would give a real boost to that part of town and give Burnley a unique venue.”
BETT member Shaun McCree said theatres in far worse condition had been “brought back to life and naturally regenerated the areas surrounding them”.
“It has taken almost three years to build a credible campaign along with awareness to attract like-minded support. Having the National Trust on board with the campaign is a great asset for the future of the Burnley Empire and town,” he said.