A NORTH-EAST council has missed out on a £5m funding bid to restore a historic theatre to its former glory.

Darlington Borough Council had applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to for funding to revive the town’s Edwardian Civic Theatre.

Councillors were told today (Wednesday, June 18) that the initial bid to the national board had not been successful, with the top four schemes awarded funding - the Darlington proposal finished fifth.

The council has said it continues to be positive about the possibility of winning funding in future and a bid for the next round of funding is being resubmitted at the invitation of HLF.

The Civic Theatre, often referred to as the jewel in Darlington’s crown, is in need of a major structural and decorative overhaul to keep it viable and able to compete with other theatres in the region.

The £5m funding was to be used as part of an £8m project to improve seating and sightlines in the theatre; create better disabled access, including a lift; build an education centre and complete a redesign of the front of the theatre to create more light and space for guests.

Improvements to backstage areas were also planned to bring the theatre up to modern standards.

Ian Thompson, assistant director of community resources at the council, told members of the place scrutiny committee that there was an “extremely positive” outlook for the funding bid.

He said: “We continue to work with HLF and there should be a further outcome in September.

“They (HLF) are really supportive of our bid and hopefully we will have more positive news in September.”

The HLF funding was expected to form up to 90 per cent of the pot of money available for the restoration, with a £1 levy on theatre tickets, which was brought in last year, adding an additional £125,000 a year towards the costs.

Nick Wallis, the council’s cabinet member for leisure and local environment, said: “We are continuing to work with HLF regarding the Civic Theatre restoration project and have received extremely positive feedback to date.

"We have resubmitted the application and we will find out late September if our bid has been successful.”

A report detailing the plans for the second bid for HLF funding for the theatre is expected to be submitted to the council’s cabinet in the coming weeks.