BLACKPOOL’S Grand Theatre looks set to open a new cafe and box office.
The venue’s trustees are seeking planning permission from the council to use a shop unit at 43 to 45 Church Street as an eaterie on the ground and first floors, with a ticket sales area on the ground floor.
The three storey building, which is currently vacant, is already part of the theatre’s curtilage but is not included in the Grade II listed status of the historic auditorium.
It is hoped the development will help boost audience numbers. Currently tickets are sold from the theatre foyer.
There would be capacity for around 130 covers at the proposed new restaurant.
A report accompanying the planning application says: “The shops at 37 to 41 Church Street, within the theatre’s curtilage, were not included in the sale of the theatre to the current owners the Blackpool Grand Theatre Trust in 1980.
“The second floor, the former wardrobe, was converted to a workshop theatre accessed from Matcham Court in 1990.
“43 to 45 Church Street (part ground floor and first floor) was purchased by the trust in 2009 following the closure of the last retail use, an 02 phone shop.
“The shop unit and first floor are essential to the theatre’s presentation to attract new audiences and may ultimately become a second entrance to the workshop and main theatres.”
If planning permission is granted, it is hoped to make improvements to the shop front to bring the setting of the premises more in line with the theatre’s listed buildings.
Around seven new full and part-time jobs would also be created.
The buildings were originally built as a printing works and offices for the Blackpool Times newspaper.
The Tower Company, which owned the Grand Theatre from 1909, bought The Times premises in the 1920s.
Last month it was announced The Grand had secured a £120,000 grant from the Arts Council which will be used to turn the theatre into a regional centre for contemporary dance.
Regular funding will be delivered over three years to encourage promising young dancers and attract a new generation of contemporary dance audiences.
The cash injection means the theatre is also hoping to attract high proﬁle contemporary dance companies to Blackpool to perform and run workshops, and it will produce its own shows.
The planning application will now go before the council’s development control committee at a future date.