Update on the Intimate Theatre

Enfield Council's planning committee defers decision on the redevelopment of the building on our Theatres at Risk Register.

A lengthy planning committee last night saw Enfield Council defer a decision on the redevelopment plans for the Intimate Theatre to seek a greater commitment to theatre performance within the new build proposals. Committee members also expressed a desire to see efforts explored to retain and re-use some of the Intimate’s interesting historic features. While the decision is certainly preferential to approving the current scheme, we are concerned that the Committee may ultimately lean towards demolition of the Intimate, a building that is locally listed, with long links to live performance and cherished by the local community.

The Intimate is a rare example of a repertory theatre design from the inter-war period which unusually was designed by a priest and has a rich cultural history. It was added to our Theatres at Risk list in 2019 when St Monica’s Church announced plans to redevelop the site. The redevelopment scheme in its current form would also leave the area without a community theatre where there is a clear demand. Furthermore, in this time of climate crisis, the carbon cost of demolition and new build, which would have a significant negative environmental impact, is a further critical factor that should be taken into consideration

The case was brought back to the Planning Committee for a fresh decision after Theatres Trust raised concerns about the original decision-making process back in November 2020. We have strongly objected to the proposals throughout the process and, based on the evidence raised by us and community groups, had hoped that the Committee may decide to refuse the planning application.

Theatres Trust National Planning Adviser Tom Clarke says “While the deferral to seek further commitment to theatre performance may help alleviate some of our concerns about the loss of a community theatre, it would still see the loss of a unique heritage asset. We were pleased some Committee members were critical of this and of the design of the replacement building. Theatres Trust believes that there is an opportunity to retain and refurbish the existing theatre to better provide a  wider range of community facilities without the need to demolish and build anew.”