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Second Shoreditch Shakespeare site to house six-storey theatre

18:11 12 February 2013

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An artist's impression of The Theatre

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The site where the archaeological remains lie of a playhouse where the young William Shakespeare worked is set to be transformed into a six-storey theatre.

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Known to the Bard as simply “The Theatre”, the new building in New Inn Yard, Shoreditch, will take on the same name and contain a three-storey 235-seat auditorium, café and an events and exhibition space.

Visitors will be able to peer down through glass panels in the ground floor to the theatre’s 16th century foundations, which were unearthed in 2008.

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The Theatre opened to audiences in 1576, and a year later another playhouse, the Curtain, was opened nearby off Hewett Street, where another controversial planning application has been lodged to build a 40-storey tower block.

Both theatres were built outside the city walls after players were formally expelled from London in 1575 to protect against disease and poor morals.

Belvedere Trust, the applicant, was granted planning permission for the development at a council planning sub-committee last week.

The application was first heard at a meeting in January but deferred to allow commissioning of a report on the daylight effects on nearby residential properties.

The Shoreditch Conservation Area Advisory Committee opposed the application, along with the Hackney Society conservation group, citing concerns the theatre would overshadow neighbours, dominate the landscape and look out of place.

But council planner Jillian Holford said in her report recommending planning permission be granted that the theatre would enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area, whereas the current hoarded, vacant site where a demolished warehouse once stood impacts it negatively.

“The scheme is a well considered, appropriate response, which clearly expresses the proposed theatre use of the building and references the timber framed design of Elizabethan theatres in a contemporary manner,” she said.

Alan Taylor, project manager for the Belvedere Trust said the building will be “modest and beautiful”.

“We are pleased to have been granted planning permission, we have been looking at the project in many guises for a number of years,” he said.

“At this size it’s going to be a receiving house, not a production house, we expect to have a Shakespearian piece to what we are offering, but it will by no means be all Shakespeare.”

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