AS a resident of Brampton, I read the article in the June 27 Hunts Post about the Brampton Little Theatre (‘Celebs back moves to preserve theatre’) with great interest.
I understand that the RAF is scheduled to vacate the Brampton base at the end of 2013, when much of the existing site, possibly including the theatre, will be flattened and redeveloped.
Many in our village want to keep a cultural balance in village facilities to support the arts as well as football, cricket, the skate park and, soon, a multi-use games area (MUGA), and it is heartening to see that luminaries from the stage (both Joanna Lumley and Sir Ian McKellen were mentioned in The Hunts Post article) have sent brief notes of support for the campaign to keep the Little Theatre as part of the redevelopment scheme.
Fortunately, Brampton is already well-blessed with community buildings, including an outstanding modern memorial centre set on the playing fields, a community centre equipped with a stage in the heart of the village, the church hall and a dedicated Scout hut.
Nonetheless, the need for the RAF Brampton site development to include a community building has been recognized, and current plans will make one available before the building of new houses is complete.
What is not clear is whether this will, or should, be in the existing 100-seat Little Theatre or in a new community building. A dedicated group from the theatre club wants the current building to be retained and developed, and I will be extremely interested to see their plans and costs to bring the present building up to scratch and, crucially, to run it and maintain it in good order.
To keep the theatre a number of hurdles need to be jumped and questions answered, including: will the MoD or the site purchaser agree to sell the building and associated car parking? Is the building insurable? How much money will be needed to buy it and then carry out the necessary refurbishment for a 1950s building?
Where will the money (perhaps £½m - £1m just to get it all started) come from? Will any business plan be robust and prove to be accurate? How will the Little Theatre manage for income before the new houses are all occupied - and even then will there be sufficient income to keep it going?
I understand that work to address these issues is under way, and the vision outlined in the Little Theatre website is interesting.
However, sentiment is no substitute for a robust business plan that shows whether retaining the current building, or starting afresh with purpose-built community facilities, will provide the best solution for Brampton into the future.