Horsham's Capitol Theatre to get £10.7million refurbishment

Plans for a £10.7m refurbishment of The Capitol theatre have been approved by Horsham District Council.
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The money, which will be spread through the capital budget between 2023/24 and 2026/27, was given the thumbs-up during a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (February 21).

Jon Olsen, cabinet member for leisure, culture & green spaces, described The Capitol as ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the district’s arts and cultural life.

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He said: “This is a significant expenditure for the council but advancing these proposals will not only see The Capitol continue to be a thriving hub for arts and culture in our community but also deliver significant improvements for audiences, artists and staff and will create a more climate-friendly facility for future generations.”

The Capitol theatre, HorshamThe Capitol theatre, Horsham
The Capitol theatre, Horsham

The aim of the work will be to not only spruce up some of the more dated fixtures and fittings, such as the seating, but to reduce the theatre’s carbon footprint.

A report to a meeting said the theatre emitted the equivalent of 286 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – the highest of any building on the council’s books.

It is hoped that the refurbishment will reduce the carbon footprint by 100 tonnes per year.

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The approval was by no means unanimous, with eight councillors voting against the refurbishment and one abstaining.

Roger Noel (Con, Bramber, Upper Beeding & Woodmancote) pointed out that when the the project was explored two years ago, the cost was around £6m.

He worried that doing the work now could negatively impact the council’s financial position.

Calling on the council to look at other options, Mr Noel said: “I feel this is too much of a financial hit to take right now.

“This is the wrong time and the wrong choice.”

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Members of the Green group felt the carbon reduction would be closer to 45 per cent than 35 per cent.

Claudia Fisher (Green, Storrington & Washington) urged the council to apply for any grants available to help with the cost.

And she asked that ‘a lot of caution is taken going forward’.

Investing in local arts and leisure and fostering civic pride is one of the priorities included in Horsham’s four-year Council Plan.