THE decision to drop the Alexandra Theatre from the Future High Street Funding proposals has been described as a ‘screeching U-turn’ by a leading councillor.

Teignbridge Council announced last week that its proposals for Newton Abbot town centre and market would no longer include changes to the Alexandra Theatre.

Councillors will today, Thursday, be considering the revised plans.

Cllr Richard Daws, who had opposed the proposed changes to extend the market hall into the theatre, said this week: ‘Somehow, without admitting it, TDC has made a screeching U-turn in the face of strong opposition.

‘Despite pretending otherwise now, the original plan was to “DEMOLISH” 100 per cent of the interior and back wall of the grade 2 listed theatre, making the market hall much larger.

‘After very strong representations from the Theatres Trust, local cultural groups and thousands of concerned residents, TDC has been rightfully forced to change their ill thought out plans.

‘This is excellent news for the future of the Alexandra Theatre as a live performance space in the future.

‘Sadly the mismanagement of this by keeping with the demolition plans for so long will have risked the council being able to benefit from the Future High Street Fund grant.

‘South Devon Alliance councillors have been lobbying against the demolition of the interior of the theatre since 2020.’

Claire Holden, a founding director of The Alexandra Theatre Community Benefit Society (CBS), said: ‘I am delighted to hear that the wall that currently separates the theatre and market hall will remain and that Teignbridge no longer plan to destroy the interior of our towns incredible historic theatre.

‘Could this really be a light appearing at the end of a very long tunnel?

‘I really hope that this will mean Teignbridge will finally start to have positive discussions with the newly formed Community Benefit Society (CBS), allowing us to work together to create an amazing community theatre and cultural hub that our town can be proud of now and for many years to come.

‘I am, however, concerned over the size of the new four-screen cinema. It looks totally out of place and will completely overshadow the market square and will have a significant impact on the grade II listed theatre.

‘I cannot see how this will get past planning, when it goes against a number of the councils own planning policies. Also, has anyone considered what would happen should Scott Cinemas stop trading?… our town will be left with a hideous steel framed “monstrosity” that will over shadow our town forever!’’

I urge Teignbridge to listen to the people and seriously consider the recent planning application submitted by the CBS, it’s amazing and would ‘link’ the market, cinema and threate perfectly.

Andrew Malcolm, of the Friends of the Alexandra Theatre, said: ‘Hearing the news that the Alex has been dropped from the immediate plans was a distinctly profound moment.

‘Our two-and-a-half year campaign has consistently demonstrated that the local community were always against the misaligned plans laid out by the council.

‘It showed a huge appetite for a live entertainment venue, in the form of a theatre, and that the Alex remains a much loved part of Newton Abbot.

‘The Friends of The Alexandra Theatre are proud to support the Community Benefit Society with their excellent work, and look forward to the next phase of the campaign to secure the Alexandra Theatre and its future, delivering high quality entertainment for Newton Abbot and surrounding district.’