Plans have been submitted to turn the former Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter into a bar.
The proposals have been met with criticism by the Theatres Trust, which claims it was not consulted on the proposals and has argued that marketing for developing the site did not include continued theatre use.
The Bike Shed closed in 2018, after eight years, blaming financial issues. Management said its on-site bar was no longer able to pay profits over to the theatre.
Now, an application has been submitted to turn the entire space into a bar. The application is from Bootlegger Bars, which already operates in Cardiff and Bristol.
It said the bar would showcase “the best of local beers and spirits” and provide “local musicians with a venue in which to casually perform”.
It said the bar would employ 12 members of staff, with eight of these being full-time.
“The proposed level of employment is likely to be a significant increase on the previous community theatre use of this site,” it added.
However, the Theatres Trust has objected to the application.
“We were not directly consulted despite the proposal falling within our statutory remit described above,” it said.
It continued that the 50-seat Bike Shed was “the only theatre of its scale in Exeter, therefore it is particularly important it is satisfactorily demonstrated it is surplus to requirements”.
“This is to satisfy policy and ensure Exeter’s cultural provision is not undermined,” it added.
The Trust said the planning statement revealed the site has been marketed for a variety of uses, but that this did not include continued theatre use.
“We do not consider this constitutes sufficient effort to identify interest for continued theatre use before looking to other use,” it said, adding: “On that basis we object to the loss of this site as a theatre space and recommend the refusal of planning permission.
"While we appreciate the plans of the proposed occupant would bring a new offer to Exeter’s evening and night time economy, it is also important to ensure the cultural needs of Exeter are met and that the overall diversity of uses within the city centre is not undermined.”
It said further marketing should be carried out, for it to be “robustly demonstrated there is no longer a need for a theatre at this site”.