Doncaster Grand Theatre talks stall

The Grand Theatre, Doncaster.
The Grand Theatre, Doncaster.
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SHOPPING centre owners at the Frenchgate have angered Doncaster’s mayor - by refusing to speak to him over the future of the Grand Theatre building.

Mayor Peter Davies had pledged to hold talks with the owners of the Frenchgate Centre over the future of the building, which has been at the centre of a campaign to bring it back into use.

But now he has revealed they are refusing to talk to him about the future of the building, a situation he says is ‘unsatisfactory’.

The Star has looked at the future of the building as part of its Save our Heritage campaign focusing on the state of some of the borough’s most iconic sites.

But Mr Davies told a public questions session at his cabinet meeting his talks had failed to happen, after a question was put to the meeting on behalf of The Star.

He said: “I am keen to get the Grand Theatre back in some sort of use, preferably as a theatre, but there are other possibilities.

“The most important thing is that the building is kept for future generations.

“Originally I though we were going to have a good relationship with the developer, and I thought we were getting somewhere to the point that we may get some sort of arrangement with the people who owned it.

“However, the current manager was told they could not discuss the theatre with me under any circumstances. She said she couldn’t talk about the Grand in any shape or form. I find this thoroughly unsatisfactory.”

He said two years ago, the then Doncaster Council director Gavin Baldwin had lined up a philanthropist who was prepared to spend money on renovating the building - but he had been unable to get any response on the plans from the owners.

He added: “It is a dreadful state of affairs. In the mean time we are making sure the building is watertight and kept to its status as a listed building.

“It is a shocking situation and I don’t quite know what to do. I’m trying to work out what their plans are - if they think it will fall down and they can redevelop it in the style of the Frenchgate.

“I am still doing my level best to get some response from the owners of the Grand.”

The Star has attempted to speak to the Frenchgate managers over the site, but no comments on its future have been made available.

The Grand was built in 1899 and Doncaster’s main theatre for decades, until it was turned into a bingo hall in the 1960s.

A long-running campaign has been running to try to save the building, with thousands of people signing a petition.

Stars including comedy legend Charlie Chaplin trod the boards there.