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Future of Wirral's Pacific Road Theatre to be decided on Monday
11:54am Friday 21st February 2014 in News
THE future of the former Pacific Road Theatre looks set to be decided on Monday at a special meeting of the council cabinet.
A bid to take over management of the now disused Birkenhead venue has been submitted by Wirral Chamber of Commerce, which wants to transform it into business centre.
The newly-invigorated Chamber has already secured a significant grant - coupled with its own capital - to carry out a major interior redesign of the building, subject to councillors showing the green light to its proposals.
The matter was scheduled to be decided by the budget cabinet earlier this month, but a procedural problem meant it was withdrawn.
However, councillors will now be presented with a report saying the authority's circumstances “have changed considerably” since efforts began to find a new use for Pacific Road in March 2012.
It states the Birkenhead theatre is no longer seen as a performance venue as staging shows and concerts are part of the council's business plan to make a success of its revamped Floral Pavilion.
The recommendations also say volunteer groups can take over management of the Transport Museum and Tramway, which operates from Pacific Road.
If cabinet members agree, the town hall will enter into a lease arrangement with the Chamber allowing it to “draw down” funding to pay for conversion work.
Once that is completed, a 25-year lease will be granted at a peppercorn rent.
The deal will allow access by Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society to the tramline inside the building, and the Taylor Street electricity sub-station which powers it.
The Chamber's chief executive, Paula Basnett, told the Globe: “Through working in partnership with organisations such Wirral Council, the redevelopment of Pacific Road is a great opportunity for us to create a business centre with an environment of the highest quality.
“This will bring not only significant opportunities for new and existing businesses to develop, but also be a conduit for employment creation."
The theatre's popularity grew rapidly when it became the principal venue for the acclaimed Wirral International Guitar Festival - now staged at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton - attracting music fans from across the country and overseas.
But its future was thrown into the melting pot in 2010 when it was declared "surplus to requirements" by the council.
1970s Liverpool art-pop pioneers Deaf School reformed and played there in December of 2011 - the centre's last ever performance and the official closing night for Pacific Road as a rock venue.
Its fate was effectively sealed in 2012 by a dramatic U-turn from Merseytravel, whose board scrapped a long-standing proposal to transfer ownership to the transport authority - and no real progress has been made in finding it a new role until now.