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Councillors to consider additional funding for final phase of Globe restoration

19 June 2019

Councillors will be asked to commit additional funding needed to complete the restoration of Stockton's famous Globe when they meet next week.

Image of the Globe on Stockton high street

The restoration will see the Grade II-listed Art Deco building on Stockton High Street become the biggest live entertainment venue between Newcastle and Leeds.

Technical designs for the complex scheme were finalised late last year, at a time when urgent structural repairs to stabilise the building were nearing completion.

A full 'buildability' review and tendering process for the final phase of restoration work followed, involving detailed discussions with over 100 specialist sub-contractors.

Final pricing and programming submissions were received earlier this month, and after checks by independent advisors, have identified the need for a further £6.5million.

The increased sum reflects major changes arising from sub-contractors' input into how the agreed designs can be delivered in light of the urgent structural stabilisation work completed earlier this year.

The need to work around and protect the building's historic features has added costs to the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, power, lifts and plumbing installations.

There are also increased costs relating to how the agreed designs for the foundations, steel work and roof structure are constructed.

And other cost increases have arisen due to difficulties accessing the Globe's auditorium, which poses complex logistical challenges.

In many cases this will require plant, machinery and equipment to be dismantled, craned into the auditorium, and then reassembled before use.

The extra work needed will push back the opening of the venue from Spring 2020 to late 2020.

Councillor Nigel Cooke, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, said: "Restoration projects are notoriously complex and the restoration of the Globe has certainly fallen into that category.

"We've had a number of setbacks - there's no point shying away from that - but even when you factor in the additional costs this is still a fantastic investment that's well worth making.

"It will bring an iconic building back into use as a 3,000 capacity venue. It's expected to bring £18million into the local economy every year. And we've got ATG, a global leader in live entertainment, signed-up to operate it for 25 years.

"That's a total economic boost to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds that will start to roll into the Borough by the end of next year once the restoration is complete and the Globe is open for business.

"We've had the additional costs scrutinised by independent advisors and even with the increase, the overall cost is still very much in line with restorations of historic theatres elsewhere in the country.

"We're proud that we've taken control of this iconic building and we're determined to make the investment necessary to ensure that it becomes an asset which will once again deliver great enjoyment as well as financial benefit to the people of the Borough.

"And it's an asset that will complement other great developments like Darlington's Hippodrome and Middlesbrough's Town Hall. Collectively, they will support the Tees Valley's joint ambition to be named City of Culture in 2025. If we want to achieve big things, we've got to deliver big projects like this."

The additional £6.5million would bring the cost of the restoration to £26.75million, with the Council contributing £22.25million and the remaining £4.5million coming from a National Lottery grant secured through the National Lottery Heritage Fund's Heritage Enterprise scheme.

Councillors will be asked for approval to fund the additional £6.5million cost via new borrowing.

And Councillor Cooke is keen to point out this would not be drawn from money the Council has recently earmarked for investment in the Borough's town centres.

"We recently approved borrowing of up to £30million to step in and take control of key sites and assets in the Borough's town centres," said Councillor Cooke. "But we won't be diverting any of that money towards the Globe because it would limit our ability to capitalise on investment opportunities across the Borough's town centres.

"As we've made clear, those plans aren't just about Stockton - they're about Thornaby, Yarm, Billingham, Norton and Ingleby Barwick too. We've got a number of irons in the fire on that front and it's very much a case of 'watch this space'."

And the world-renowned ATG, which will operate the Globe and already has theatres in New York's Broadway and London's West End, is getting on with approaching big name acts to play the live music and comedy venue.

ATG's Group Operations Director, Stuart Beeby, said: "We're excited to be bringing household names, the top talent of music and comedy, to Stockton - renowned acts that people will recognise.

"No theatre has been restored in this way, from a historic venue into a home for live music and entertainment for a modern audience. This is ground-breaking and what makes it a challenging and exciting project.

"As a venue, the Globe is iconic and it's so exciting to be working on a project like this and bringing this back to the Stockton community. It's just a terrific thing to be part of."

Ivor Crowther, Head of Investment - North Area, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added: "Like we said at the outset of this project, there is at least one historic building like the Globe in almost every town and city.

"And these empty buildings, though much-loved, present huge technical and financial challenges. Our Heritage Enterprise scheme is about using money raised through the National Lottery to unlock the potential of buildings like the Globe.

"That aspiration has not changed. The Globe's potential as a catalyst for wider regeneration, economic growth and job creation are clear to see, and of course its restoration will also save a wonderful part of our heritage from further neglect."

Members of the Council's Cabinet will be asked to support the commitment of the additional £6.5million needed to complete the project when they meet on Thursday, June 27. If agreed, it will then be considered at a Full Council meeting later that day.

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