The national advisory body for theatres in the UK says it will help fight back against plans to transform a historic theatre in Hitchin into residential flats.

Earlier today we revealed that proposals that would transform The Market Theatre in Sun Street into five flats have been submitted to North Herts District Council.

READ MORE: Hitchin's Market Theatre could be axed as plan for flats is drawn up

Now, the national advisory body for theatres in the UK has said it objects to these new plans in "the strongest possible terms".

Tom Clarke, National Planning Adviser at the Theatres Trust, said: “As a national advisory public body and statutory consultee within the planning system, we object to these plans in the strongest possible terms.

"As an active theatre clearly valued by the community, which provides opportunities for local people to develop their skills in the arts and come together, its loss in favour of new flats would do unthinkable damage.

"National and local planning policy are clear that these types of facilities should be retained. Recent changes to the planning system have further protected the country’s cultural venues.

"There is no justification to support conversion of this theatre and we expect the council to follow our advice. Theatres Trust is providing the Market Theatre with the advice and support it needs.

"We would encourage Hitchin residents and those who use the theatre to submit their objections to the council."

The Theatres Trust was established after the Theatres Trust Act 1976 - which aims to ensure "current and future generations have access to good quality theatres" across the country.

You can view the applications in full, or leave your thoughts by searching reference 20/03066/LBC and 20/03065/FP on NHDC's planning portal.