The Market Theatre could be axed as plan for flats is drawn up

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Hitchin's Market Theatre could be forced out of Sun Street if planning permission for new flats is granted. - Credit: Glyn Doggett

We could soon say goodbye to Hitchin's historic Market Theatre venue, if plans to convert the interior into flats are accepted by North Herts District Council.

The building that houses The Market Theatre, which has been operating in Sun Street since 1996, is subject to two new planning applications that could see the building converted into five flats.

And the future of the Theatre's current home looks uncertain, with a planning application submitted to NHDC earlier this month that could transform the interior into three two-bed and two one-bed apartments.

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The Market Theatre's Long Bar. - Credit: Glyn Doggett

Homegrown Market Theatre productions have included musicals, murder mysteries, thrillers, comedies and adult pantomimes over the years.

Beyond that, it has been used as a community space for hosting birthday parties and events, has hosted weekly drama classes for 150 aspiring actors and Hub Church's Sunday services.

Theatre manager Glyn Doggett insisted the Market Theatre was "not giving up" and said it would be "devastating" for Hitchin to lose one of its treasured cultural hubs.

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The Market Theatre, in Sun Street, has grown into a community hub over the last 25 years. - Credit: Glyn Doggett

Glyn said: "We've had a fantastic response to our crowdfunding campaign, and after that we knew we can get through this pandemic. After a year of such uncertainty, this latest news has hit us really hard.

"As far as we're concerned, we want to be in Hitchin forever. Kirk, the artistic director, has worked so hard over the last 25 years to build something special here.

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"I think it would be absolutely devastating, after all the challenges we've overcome in the last year, for Hitchin to lose the Market Theatre and all that it brings to the community.

"As far as Market Theatre goes, we aren't going anywhere. But, we hope there will be enough support behind us for the council to realise this would be a big loss."

The Market Theatre has raised more than £10,000 from its crowdfunding campaign to provide it with a lifeline until people can return to their shows.

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.

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