CONCERNS have been raised over the progress of the multi-million pound revamp of a legendary North-East music venue.
In 2011, the town’s council said that The Globe theatre in Stockton – which once played host to bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – was set to re-open its doors at the end of 2012 following major refurbishment.
Now, following preliminary work to secure and protect the Grade II listed building, workmen have downed tools and the company behind the project – estimated to be costing about £4m - has confirmed there is no set completion date.
Hopes to restart construction work on the iconic building appear to be pinned on a bid for Heritage Lottery funding.
Stuart Monk, director of project leaders Jomast Developments, said that the “costly” scheme was progressing as quickly as possible but added: “We are proceeding with an application for Heritage Lottery funding and that application has to take its course.
"Obviously we would not be applying if it was not needed. It is a very big and substantial scheme and Heritage funding is part of it.”
Mr Monk anticipates the next stage of building work will follow a decision on the Heritage Lottery funding. He said: “As soon as our application is determined, it will be full steam ahead.”
He added that the council – which has earmarked £1m to support the project if Jomast find match-funding - may have been “overexcited” when they publicised an anticipated opening date of late 2012.
A recent council report said that the decision on Heritage Lottery funding will be made in July 2013, with a view to completing works and opening the refurbished Globe in autumn 2015.
A spokesman for Stockton Borough Council said: “We would obviously like to see The Globe open as soon as is practical but this is a truly ambitious scheme and it must be done right and we understand that this takes time.
"We fully support Jomast’s plans for the Globe as the refurbished building will be a tribute to its history and heritage and in keeping with our overall ambitious plans for Stockton Town Centre.”
Doubts over the future of the project have been expressed by local residents and business owners.
Jemma Vaatstra, landlady of the nearby Castle and Anchor pub, said: “People are giving up hope because of delays. If it does open, it will really help to regenerate Stockton and it will improve business for us.
“If they can live up to what they are saying, it could be great but everybody used to be buzzing about the Globe and now, with all the delays, nobody is talking about it anymore.”