Coliseum plan to mark cultural revival of town

Reporter: Richard Hooton
Date published: 31 August 2017

COUNCIL and theatre chiefs are pressing ahead with plans for a new Oldham Coliseum after it secured planning permission.

They have released a new artist's impression of the state-of-the-art facility after working on a redesign with project architects Mecanoo.

As recently revealed by the Chronicle, the development on Union Street was given the green light by Oldham Council's planning committee.

Construction work is now anticipated to start in early 2018, with the venue set to open in 2020.

A 170-seat studio theatre has also been added to the new building in response to feedback on the initial designs.

The Coliseum will relocate from its home on Fairbottom Street to Southgate Street car park site.

The new-build project will provide a 550-seat auditorium as well as improved front-of-house facilities which will include a café bar and outdoor terrace area.

The theatre will form part of a new Cultural Quarter which will include a new Heritage and Arts Centre alongside the popular Gallery Oldham, Library and Lifelong Learning Centre. All are sited at a prominent town-centre gateway and just yards from the Oldham Central Metrolink stop.

Councillor Jean Stretton, Oldham Council leader, said: "The Coliseum will be a central part of our ambitious new Cultural Quarter and will put Oldham firmly on the map as a cultural destination, attracting new visitors to the town.

"The Coliseum is deeply rooted in Oldham's history and I'm delighted that we can get on with this project and create something special for future generations of theatre-goers."

Kevin Shaw,the Coliseum's artistic director and chief executive, said: "This move, the second in our 132-year history, will see the Coliseum inhabit a purpose-built theatre that will enable us to build on our strengths, realise our rich potential and make even more ambitious theatre for our audiences from Oldham and beyond.

"We will continue to deliver fantastic productions and there will be more opportunities for participants to engage with the theatre."

The project was given the go-ahead after a successful joint funding bid by the council and the theatre secured a £7.1million National Lottery-funded capital grant from Arts Council England towards the project.