TOWN Hall chiefs have been told to expect ‘more pressure’ over a new theatre for Warrington – but the council leader confirmed plans for a site have not been resurrected.

In July last year, plans for a theatre in the town to boost the borough’s arts scene were taken off the table.

It came after an ambitious proposal to explore the possibility of converting the former drill hall, on Bath Street, into a performance venue with around 400 seats was put forward.

However, in October it was reported that a reconfiguration of the Pyramid Arts Centre was being considered, with a suggestion that it could be used.

At the supporting the local economy policy committee meeting last week, Cllr Tony Williams said ‘there is some regret for me that we do not have a theatre’ and that there will be ‘more pressure’ to deliver a theatre as the town moves forward.

He added: “I think, as we go on and repopulate the town centre, there will be more pressure on us to provide a theatre and encourage the arts in the town.”

However, council leader Cllr Russ Bowden has confirmed there are currently no plans to invest into such a facility.

He said: “Our focus in terms of cultural strategy has been around demonstrating the need and interest in theatre, so thinking about theatre as more of performance, rather than a building.

“I think what we need to do is demonstrate the appetite in Warrington.

“We are quite clear over the ambition we have shown over the regeneration of the town centre, around the number of homes we are going to build in the town centre, through the local plan process.

“What we need to do is have the cultural offer right in the town, so I think it’s inevitable what people will want is something additional, such as a theatre performing space.”

A board of Warrington’s business, community and political leaders has met to discuss a funding bid of up to £25 million as part of the Government’s Towns Fund initiative.

The Warrington Town Deal board has been set up to identify areas where a ‘compelling case’ for funding can be put forward to contribute to, and complement, the work already being delivered to regenerate the town.

In September, the Government invited 101 places – including Warrington – to bring forward proposals for a Town Deal as part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund.

Part of the bid process requires the board to produce an investment plan to detail its ambitions and areas where funding would be welcomed.

As part of the bid, the board is considering how funding could be used for creative digital, arts and culture development.

And despite currently having no plans to deliver a theatre, Cllr Bowden says if ‘there is potential’ for a new site through the Towns Fund then ‘that would be great’.

Chair of the Warrington Town Deal board Matt Crompton, managing director of Muse Developments, said: “This is an opportunity for Warrington to stake its claim and bid for funding to give the town centre another welcome boost.

“There is an exciting amount of regeneration and economic investment in Warrington at the moment, with shared ambitions between business and community leaders to make the town even better for those who live and work here.”

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead, who is also vice chair of the board, added: “Warrington’s Town Deal board has only met once but we have already made positive steps forward.

“It’s clear that despite the collective work being done to improve the town centre, there is still more for us to achieve.

“Being successful in receiving funding to support our continued regeneration and development is, therefore, a shared commitment for all of the board’s members.”