Biggleswade could be getting 'dynamic' new arts venue in old town hall building

A planning application to transform the old town hall into The Bigg Theatre has been submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council.

By Joanna Gravett
Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:58 pm

A "dynamic" new arts venue is on the horizon for Biggleswade with plans to revolutionise the community's cultural scene.

A planning application to transform the old town hall into The Bigg Theatre has been submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council by the Biggleswade Arts Collective (BAC), which hopes to breathe new life into the building after the demise of Pizza Express.

An ambitious vision has been put forward, as the applicant hopes to convert the Grade II listed building into "a dynamic new arts destination".

The building was formerly a Pizza Express. Photo: Google Maps.

Biggleswade Arts Collective state: "This exciting new venue will be a community arts hub complete with a multi format, flexible performance space, 100 seat theatre and a contemporary cafe/bar foyer space that will serve as a gallery for local artists.

"Positioned in the centre of town, The Bigg Theatre will provide live entertainment to include live music, live comedy, plays and musicals and event cinema.

"The venue will also be available to the community for their artistic and creative pursuits, including dance fitness classes, group events, creative workshops, birthday parties, rehearsal space, youth groups and more."

The building has sat empty for around one year, since the town's Pizza Express branch fell victim to the pandemic and closed.

However, local politicians believe a new theatre could be just what the town needs.

Deputy Mayor of Biggleswade, Cllr Grant Fage, told the Chronicle: "It looks like it will be a great addition to the town centre and I am very excited.

"They [Biggleswade Arts Collective] are all professionals in the theatre industry and within the creative arts who have come together to try and do something to really put Biggleswade on the map.

"In terms of the creative arts, there are things happening behind the scenes, but we don't have a central hub.

"Whether your children do drama, whether you are employed in the sector, or whether you just have an interest in the theatre, this will be somewhere to bring people together."

Last year, a Zoom meeting with members of Biggleswade Arts Collective was held with local councillors whom provided guidance, thoughts, and advice on grants which BAC could apply for.

It was also a chance for Biggleswade Arts Collective members to introduce themselves and highlight the potential gap in the market.

The meeting was attended by Cllr Fage, CBC Cllr Steven Watkins, CBC and Biggleswade Town Councillor Ian Bond, and Biggleswade Town Councillors Mark Knight and Robert Pullinger.

Cllr Fage said: "We [the Town Council] have to consider this on planning merits. It's an important building and I'm sure the applicant will make sure its features are not lost."

He added: "This is so radically different and unique that most councillors can't think of anything that comes close to what this could be."

To view the application, visit the CBC website and use the code: CB/21/02657/LB.

The target date for Central Beds Council to make its decision is August 3.