Open space performance theatre

(formerly known as the Handa Noh Theatre)

Introduction / summary

The 2015 outline planning permission and illustrative Estate Plan highlighted the opportunity to deliver a major academic building to replace the Handa Noh Theatre and adjacent Orchard Building.

In August 2019 the university secured reserved matters approval for the erection of a large academic building, to be known as the Enterprise Centre, on the site. This project would have required the relocation of a performance space and a site close by and to the north of the A30 was identified. Planning permission was secured in 2020 for a new project, known as the open space performance theatre, which would have enabled the demolition of the Handa Noh Theatre to make way for the Enterprise Centre.

The global outbreak of Covid-19 halted theĀ development of the Enterprise Centre and the university has since decided to pursue other estate opportunities.

The Handa Noh Theatre is considered an ideal location for a new virtual production studio linked to a digital arts program. The retention, refurbishment and repurposing of the Handa Noh Theatre building maintains the need to replace the facility. The university is therefore currently seeking funding to assist in the delivery of the open space performance theatre.

Figure 1: Red circle highlights current position of the open space performance theatre (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: Extract from the Illustrative masterplan which underpinned the 2015 outline planning consent. The potential relocation site is highlighted by the red circle


Images of the new theatre are set out below. Details of the project and building design can be found in the integrated Planning Design and Access Statement submitted to Runnymede Borough Council in March 2019.

Figure 3: Proposed open space performance theatre from the Planning Design and Access Statement

Link with other Estate projects and plans

As above, the project is inherently linked with the potential repurposing of the Handa Noh Theatre as a virtual production studio. Access to the site will be gained from the access junction on the A30 serving Sutherland House. The pedestrian bridge will remain for the foreseeable future. Works to the Piggery Gate junction are now proposed (2022) which will improve the pedestrian and cycling at-grade connections over the A30. A new pedestrian route is currently (September 2022) being designed which will link Sutherland House in the west with Chestnuts in the east, itself the subject of a current proposal to refurbish and extend. This pathway will be integrated with the open space performance theatre and will be developed in line with the Glasshouses extension project


Subject to grant funding, the university would look to progress the open space performance theatre during 2023.

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