Film News

UK venues closing due to RAAC concrete fears

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At least 10 concert venues and theatres in the UK have been forced to shut over the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in their infrastructures.

RAAC is a lightweight building material that was used from the 1950s up to the mid 1990s in the UK and was recently assessed to be at risk of collapse.

Following the UK Government’s decision to revise the guidance on the dangerous material, over 150 schools have had to partly or fully close, while the material has also affected hospitals, airports, universities and courts.

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The following venues have been affected after inspectors flagged RAAC:

  • Guildhall, Preston
  • The Orchard, Dartford
  • Dixton Studio, Westcliff-on-Sea
  • The Forum Theatre, Stockport
  • Royal and Derngate, Northampton
  • The Sands Centre, Carlisle
  • Core Theatre, Solihull
  • The Brunton, Musselburgh
  • YMCA Theatre, Scarborough
  • St David’s Hall, Cardiff
Preston Guildhall
Preston Guildhall. Ctedit: WikiCommons

All of these venues have wiped their September event calendars and it is uncertain when they will be permitted to re-open. Local councils are working with venues on necessary adaptions, though schools and hospitals with RAAC are taking priority.

Preston’s Guildhall had been closed since 2019 but was due to re-open in November for the Preston Weekender music festival, which is currently still set to go ahead.

In a statement, Preston City Council said a “small number of future events were planned for this year” and they are currently “in discussion with the organisers about these”.

A spokesperson said [via IQ]: “We are taking a cautious and ‘safety first’ approach by securing the Grand Hall and Charter Theatre auditoria, until specialist consultant structural engineers can carry out a more detailed inspection. Unfortunately, we understand that this may take some time, as the experts required to carry out this very particular type of work are naturally prioritising school inspections.”

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The Royal and Derngate auditoriums and Northampton Filmhouse were closed with immediate effect and the operators say they’re urgently discussing with their landlords, West Northamptonshire Council, to investigate and plan remedial works.

“We are deeply saddened by this discovery and to have to close our doors at this time, particularly as September is usually an incredibly busy and important time for the theatre,” said chief executive, Jo Gordon. “We are keenly aware of the disappointment that this will cause to audiences, visiting companies and our staff alike, though we know they’ll understand that their safety is always our primary concern. We look forward to welcoming everyone back as soon as possible and updating further as soon as we are able.”

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