Yeovil Residents Not Happy With Council Over Octagon Theatre

Yeovil Residents Not Happy With Council Over Octagon Theatre


£200,000 Required To Re-open Yeovil Theatre 


Somerset Council made an announcement in October 2023, revealing that it was postponing the £30 million renovation project for the Octagon Theatre. This decision was made to review the project's business feasibility in the face of rising inflation and interest rates.

Since the closure of the theatre in April 2023, the council has decided, as part of its annual budget, to keep the venue shut until a new business plan is approved. The current plan involves a reduced redevelopment scheme amounting to £15 million. Yeovil Town Council will be responsible for managing the theatre once it reopens in time for the 2026 pantomime season.

In the event that this new plan is abandoned, significant costs will still be incurred to restore the venue to its former state. Multiple structural assessments were conducted post-closure, indicating the substantial investment required for restoration.

The executive committee of the council convened in Taunton on Wednesday morning (May 8) to officially include the £15 million regeneration proposals in its capital program spanning the next three years.

As per the updated plans, the theatre is set to undergo refurbishment totaling £15 million, with £10 million secured from a designated grant allocated by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS).

A further £3.75m will be provided by Yeovil Town Council, which agreed in principle to take over the running of the theatre as part of its annual budget setting (which also saw it take the reins at the Yeovil Country Park and the Yeovil Recreation Ground, known locally as Mudford Rec).

The remaining £1.25 million will be acquired through external grants, contributions from housing projects, and local fundraising efforts.

Despite the downsized nature of the project, it will include the construction of a fly tower to enhance the variety of productions that can be presented at the venue. Additionally, improvements to the auditorium, enhanced accessibility, upgraded front-of-house and catering amenities, improved dressing rooms, and some external landscaping are also part of the revised plans.

The planned increase in capacity from 622 to 900 will not be incorporated – though a “modest” increase in capacity within the existing footprint could be achieved.

Councillor Adam Dance, portfolio holder for public health, equalities and diversity, asked what the council planned to do with the venue if the DCMS grant was withdrawn.

Mr Dance – who will be aiming to become Yeovil’s MP at the next general election – said: “If we don’t get the grant from government, I was of the understanding that we would look to put the theatre back together before we want it over to Yeovil Town Council.”

Learn about Trade Solutions Yeovil 


Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts, portfolio holder for communities, housing and culture, replied: “If it wasn’t successful, we would need to bring a separate business case through the democratic process.”

The latest news has not pleased local Yeovil residents, David Travis, who was a regular user of the Octagon told Yeovil Real News:

' It's been a total shambles from start to finish, the Council have made a right hash from the start, there was nothing wrong with what we had - the Council knew they were broke, they should have just left it to run as normal.'  


More News

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.