Capacity boost ahead of big year for Scarborough OAT

Kaiser Chiefs at the Open Air Theatre earlier this year
Kaiser Chiefs at the Open Air Theatre earlier this year

Plans have been submitted to permanently drain and fill in part of the lake in front of Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre stage in order to increase the capacity of the venue.

The scheme would create a fixed area in front of the stage to boost the capacity of the theatre from 6,000 to more than 7,500.

In December, California-based tour promoter Live Nation took over Cuffe and Taylor, and the council has now agreed a 10-year deal with the global firm, which is one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world.

The number of concerts will also increase with up to 20 lined up for 2018.

Under the plans, the lake will be filled in at a time when the water is not full of the protected great crested newts.

The section of Northstead Manor Lake behind the stage will be made into a habitat for the creatures.

The plans state: “The lake will be drained in November and infilled with reclaimed fill materials. The fill will be covered with a coloured hardipave surfacing laid to falls with appropriate drainage. Handrails are then placed around the perimeter of the structure.”

More than 74,000 people headed to the theatre this year - 25,000 more than last summer - with sales breaking all records.

Last year the venue was worth an estimated £2.5m to the economy, and this year the figure is predicted to be significantly higher.

The amphitheatre first opened in 1932 but - apart from a handful of performances in the 1980s - productions largely ceased there after 1968 and in 1977 the dressing room and stage, set on an island, were demolished. A ruin for two decades, planning permission for a major restoration was granted in 2008. It was opened by the Queen in 2010.