10,000 seats for new theatre?

Open Air Theatre commences with its first Concert with Jose Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa...birds eye view  102967n news
Open Air Theatre commences with its first Concert with Jose Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa...birds eye view 102967n news

A BID to increase the capacity of Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre to just under 10,000 could be given the go-ahead today – on the first anniversary of its opening by the Queen.

Scarborough Council’s licensing sub-committee was due to meet at the Spa today to rule on the plans.

The venue’s current 6,500 capacity will be temporarily extended by an extra 2,000 seats, built on decking over the lake, for Sir Elton John’s concert on June 5 – and operators are now hoping to increase the capacity further by 3,499 to 9,999.

Tickets went on sale yesterday for next month’s performance by Brit Award-winning popstar Ellie Goulding and the theatre will also host a Last Night at the Proms event starring Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Aled Jones at the end of August.

Cllr David Jeffels, the council’s new cabinet member for tourism, said if the plans were approved, the extra capacity should enable the venue to attract more big names to Scarborough – and bring the audience closer to the acts they were watching.

“It will help the variety of the concerts involving bigger-name stars,” he said.

X-Factor finalists Belle Amie, featuring Scarborough’s Sophia Wardman, will be one of the support acts for Ellie Goulding on June 11. The band will give a performance at the Glass House Bistro, at the entrance of the Open Air Theatre, at 12.30pm tomorrow, followed by a meet and greet session with fans.

Licensing officer Mark Heaton said the increase in capacity would only apply for certain shows when decking is placed over the lake.

He added a number of concerns had been raised regarding the new proposals, adding: “North Yorkshire Police state that the premises is a five-minute walk from the border of Scarborough’s Cumulative Impact Zone. They go on to state that during the summer period of 2010 and in previous years the North Bay/Peasholm area has been a gathering point for young people and under age drinkers which resulted in a number of issues.”

Mr Heaton said that the police also highlighted concerns that during the 2010 World Cup, when a number of England games were shown big screens, there were a number of arrests for anti-social behaviou.

The fire and rescue service made a representation on safety grounds and the Environmental Health Department was concerned over the prevention of public nuisance.

Earlier this month councillors on the planning committee approved plans to extend performance times at the Open Air Theatre to 11pm, despite objections from neighbouring residents.

The licensing sub-committee has several options including: to reject the application, grant the licence, grant it with conditions, to exclude a licensable activity or to exclude a licensable activity and include additional conditions.

Tickets for Ellie Goulding are available by calling 0844 8889991 or online at www.ticketline.co.uk