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intimate theatre palmers greenA strongly worded objection to the planning application for demolition of the Intimate Theatre has been submitted by the Theatres Trust, the national advisory public body for theatres.

The grounds for the objection are that the proposals by St Monica's Church would lead to the loss of a theatre "for which need and demand clearly exists", that the church is not intending to provide a replacement theatre in an area that is short of provision, and that the Intimate "has unique history and heritage and is highly valued by the local community".

The submission takes issue with the assertion by St Monica's that the Intimate is not a theatre and the Theatres Trust therefore has no statutory right to be consulted. It describes the building as

a rare survivor that illustrates repertory theatre design in the inter-war period. We believe from our records it was designed by a priest of the church who appears to have good knowledge of theatre. This makes it particularly special, but even if the priest had no hand it is highly unusual for a church to have constructed a theatre to this specification rather than a flat-floored hall as was common. It has some high quality ornate interior features and fittings and these have survived virtually intact. The history of the building and its contribution to repertory theatre in London as well as the artists that played there adds to its special historic interest. It hosted the first complete play to be broadcast live by the BBC and several famous names in the arts have performed there such as David Bowie, Roger Moore and Bill Owen; it is where Richard Attenborough made his stage debut. It has until recently continued to be used by local amateur theatre groups.

The Trust accuses the church of making "efforts to undermine the role and significance of St Monica’s Hall as a theatre (the Intimate Theatre)" and says that "it is clear the building was designed so as it could be used as a fully functioning theatre to the extent it was constructed with a formal stage, proscenium arch, dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces. [...] It is clear from the submitted existing site plans that the building remains set out as a fully-functioning theatre. Therefore it is without doubt the site contains a theatre."

Should it not prove possible to retain the current building, the Trust calls on the council to require that the new building should provide for at least the same standard of provision of theatre function.

Finally, should the council be minded to approve the application to demolish the Intimate, the Trust says that it would invoke its statutory right to request call-in of the decision by the secretary of state.

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