Royal makeover mooted

Timaru's Theatre Royal could be expanded, with two adjacent shops demolished to make way for a new foyer area.

A feasibility study will be discussed at the Timaru District Council's policy and development committee meeting on Tuesday.

The study also suggests the old Army Hall on Barnard St, which the council owns, could be removed to make a larger accessway to the back of the theatre.

New seating is proposed for the theatre, which would reduce the capacity by 100 from 1024, as the new seats would be wider.

Property manager Matt Ambler prepared the report for council and recommended first that a structural report be sought. "The Theatre Royal has existed on the site since 1877 and was in private ownership up until 1961, when Timaru City Council acquired the building.

"The existing auditorium and rear of house were built in 1911. The main exterior structure is brick, of a four-layer thickness. Seismic-strengthening steel was affixed to the exterior of the auditorium in 1992/93, in conjunction with the foyer upgrade.

"At the time of construction of the new foyer in 1993, physical area constraints limited toilet numbers."

A two-level addition to the north of the foyer, taking the place of two Stafford St shops, would allow a bigger bar area, more toilets and a small conference room for 50 people. The prospect of a larger conference area is discounted.

"Realistically the held opinion is that the south end of Timaru currently just does not have the pulling power to attract such a development, as it does not have the variety and standard of retail outlet considered desirable to attract."

The report states the formed access from Barnard St as the pedestrian link to the theatre and Stafford St was not lit well for night movements.

"Negative opportunities are known to exist. Depending on the development of the Army Hall site, it is seen as desirable to focus pedestrian movements to the formed right of way expressly, and confine movements from the right of way up to Barnard St."

The required minimum earthquake standard will be 34 per cent of the new building standard.

The building had seismic strengthening added to the structure in the foyer upgrade project of 1992/93. The work done to the building met the required minimum level for the Building Code of the day, at 33 per cent.

The Timaru Herald