Producer Peter Wilson has pulled out of a planned takeover of the Arts Theatre in London, blaming “inadequate” proposals for the venue’s redevelopment.
Wilson’s company, PW Productions, was announced as the new operator for the venue in 2016, at which time he said he wanted the theatre to become a home for new plays.
However, he said current proposals for the redevelopment of the venue from owner Consolidated meant the “theatre as submitted isn’t viable commercially”.
“I have this morning withdrawn from any further involvement with the Arts Theatre through Consolidated Group, on the grounds that the theatre as submitted isn’t viable commercially. Though the number of seats has increased, the front-of-house and audience facilities are inadequate,” he told The Stage.
Plans for the the theatre’s redevelopment have been in the pipeline for more than a decade. An original application was made in 2012. However, the plans have undergone several changes over the past few years.
In November last year, Consolidated submitted its most recent, updated plans for the venue, which included increasing seating capacity from 350 to 400.
The Theatres Trust welcomed these, saying they “broadly meet our approval”, adding that they represented a “further improvement compared to the iteration which caused us greatest concern as outlined in our response of July 2017”.
It added: “We retain some concern about other aspects of the scheme, such as ensuring the theatre has sufficient street-frontage and prominence, that the theatre is viable, that there is a robust fire safety and evacuation strategy and engagement with Westminster’s Licensing department, but appreciate these are outside the scope of this particular application,” it added.
Original plans stated that the venue would be part of a complex that would also include a hotel and swimming pool.
The Arts Theatre has undergone several changes to management and operators over the years.
In 2010, tenant Basrat Ltd was served notice to leave before the end of the year, with the theatre taken over by JJ Goodman and Mig Kimpton under Louis Hartshorn as manager in 2011. When Kimpton left in 2014, he said the ongoing redevelopment plans posed a “potential threat” to the venue.
Consolidated could not be reached for comment.