Open Space Performance Building

(formerly known as the Handa Noh Theatre)

Introduction / summary

In order to facilitate, subject to planning permission being secured, the erection of a new Enterprise Centre close to and within the main campus south of the Piggery Gate junction, the university wishes to relocate the existing Open Space Performance Building. The theatre is currently “tucked” behind the single-storey Orchard Building and served to the rear by a car park.

The theatre building has no visual prominence from the A30, though is visible from the pedestrian bridge which crosses the A30 and touches down close to, and to the east of, the theatre. The existing building is located within the Green Belt along with its immediate surroundings within the main campus.  A relocation site has been identified to the north of the A30 close to Sutherland Lodge. It is intended to erect a modular building to accommodate the specialist stage within an undeveloped site accessed via an alteration to the existing internal private road network.

Figure 1: Red circle highlights current position of Open Space Performance Building (formerly known as the Handa Noh Theatre). The yellow circle highlights potential relocation site. Note that this image was taken prior to extensive ground vegetative clearance within the relocated site

Figure 2: Existing site photo taken from the pedestrian footbridge over the A30: this bridge is proposed to be removed in the near future aligned with the Piggery Gate junction works

Relevance to the Estate Plan

The Estate Plan was updated in November 2017 to reflect all recently-completed developments including the student accommodation north of the A30 (George Eliot Hall), the Boilerhouse, Beatrice Shilling Building and Emily Wilding Davison Building. This was sent to the council in an informative manner.

The 2015 illustrative plan (and 2017 update) proposed no building(s) on the site of the proposed theatre relocation site. The closest proposed building is the relocated campus services compound to the north. At present, the proposed relocation site is not directly served by the current internal road network, which would need to be provided as part of the construction process, and completed in advance of the occupation of the building. A dead-end spur off the Sutherland House drive comes close to the eastern boundary of the proposed development plot for the theatre, but does not appear to connect into the site.

Figure 3: Extract from the Illustrative masterplan which underpinned the 2015 outline planning consent. The potential relocation site is highlighted by the red circle


At the current time, the university is considering its accommodation needs. The university is working with Stride Treglown (Architects and Town Planning Consultants) to develop the brief and prepare the way for a planning application. Transport Consultants, Ecologists, Arboricultural Consultant and a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering team have been appointed. Site surveys have are ongoing to understand and limit the effects of development in this location. The relocation site is outside the Green Belt.


The emerging design rationale and site analysis was presented in the exhibition boards presented at the July 2019 engagement event. The boards can be seen here.


Planning application / reserved matters submission

Due to the modest nature of the scheme, and that the 2015 estate plan did not show a building in this location, the university has agreed to pursue a full planning application. This is due to be submitted in February 2020.  The proposal does not breach the net academic floor space approved under the outline planning permission. Notwithstanding the modest nature of the scheme, a number of technical and design studies will be submitted in support of the submission. These will include a Transport Statement, Ecology Appraisal, Noise Impact Assessment and Heritage Statement.


The full planning application was submitted to Runnymede Borough Council, as the Local Planning Authority on the 23rd April 2020. The application was registered on the 4th May and backdated to the date of submission. A link to the Council’s website, where the complete suite of planning application documents can be viewed is set out below.

Link with other Estate projects and plans

The existing Open Space Performance Building is positioned on the site on the future Enterprise Centre Building. Both the Open Space Performance Building and the adjacent Orchard Building will be demolished to make way for the Enterprise Centre. Enabling works suggest that demolition will occur towards the end of 2019 in order to allow construction activities to begin at the start of 2020. The activities undertaken within Orchard Building will be temporarily relocated elsewhere within the campus. Details relating to the Enterprise Centre can be found here.

The new Open Space Performance Building will be accessed via a new route served off the existing Piggery Gate junction until such time as the junction is remodelled. Sutherland House, Sutherland Lodge and the Open Space Performance Building Theatre will continue to be accessible during the Piggery Gate junction improvements. For information relating to the Piggery Gate junction, click here.

Please take the time to download and take a look at the exhibition board. We trust that you will find these helpful.

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