Roundhouse

A popular, intimate venue and Dover’s only purpose-built publicly accessible theatre.

Semi circular seating  in the auditorium of the Roundhouse.
Address
Dover Discovery Centre, York St, Market Square, Dover CT16 1PH
Risk Rating
6 (Community Value: 3, Star Rating: 1, Risk Factor: 2)
Local Authority
Dover District Council
Owner
Kent County Council / Dover District Council
Operator
Blackfish Academy
Architect
Unknown
Date of Construction
1980s
Listing
Not listed / Asset of Community Value
Capacity
100

Significance

The intimate 100-seat Roundhouse Theatre is located within the Dover Discovery Centre, a complex constructed in the late 1980s and built around two areas of Roman remains at either end of the site with a medieval church in the middle. The building currently also houses a library and registrar service, the Adult Education Service, the Bronze Age Boat and Dover Museum. It has been home to the Black Fish Theatre and other community users since 2005.

The Blackfish Academy, a professional training establishment for performing arts, is based in the building.

The theatre was designated an Asset of Community Value in September 2021, a move opposed by Kent County Council but approved by Dover District Council.

It is the only publicly accessibly purpose-built theatre in Dover and its loss would leave the area without a suitable performance venue.

Why is this theatre at risk?

Current plans drawn up by Kent County Council and Dover District Council, who have split ownership of the Dover Discovery Centre, for a Dover Community Hub will see key children’s services and a local studies archive relocated to the building. The new proposals do not retain the theatre. The current operator, Blackfish Academy, whose lease expired in 2013 and which has remained at the theatre under an informal arrangement ever since, has been told that it will need to relocate leaving it without a home and Dover without a dedicated theatre. No alternative provision is proposed.

Theatre potential

This has been an active theatre used by a range of drama groups such as Dover Operatic and Dramatic Society and Dover Youth Theatre, and has a strong youth education programme providing professional dramatic and performance training and experience to young people.

There is a desire and demand for the space to be retained for this use and to continue to serve its local community. The redevelopment proposals have attracted much criticism within the local community, with a petition attracting more than 1,000 signatures, and an application to have the building listed as an Assets of Community Value was successful.

Current situation

Plans to progress the scheme for the Dover Community Hub project were recommended for approval by Kent County Council in August 2021. Kent County Council and Dover District Council have entered into a funding agreement for the £7.75m cost to commence the redevelopment and deliver the scheme.

Theatres Trust will encourage wider consultation on the Dover Discovery Centre plans to accommodate performance use and will support community groups.

Update April 2022

We have objected to the planning application for alterations at Dover's Discovery Centre which will see the Roundhouse Theatre converted to council office space. Read our response.

Main image, Roundhouse Theatre by Ian Grundy.