Permanent café approval is a threat to Burnley Empire restoration

On Thursday 7 June Burnley’s Planning Committee voted to overturn the planning officer’s recommendation and approved permanent permission for a café / bar within the original foyer of theatre at risk, Burnley Empire. Theatres Trust and Burnley Empire Theatre Trust representatives spoke at the hearing, recommending rejection of the plans. 

This follows on from news earlier this year, where contrary to the recommendation of the planning officer, Burnley Borough Council’s Planning Committee approved a 10-year temporary planning permission to turn the original foyer of the Grade II listed Empire into a café.

This is a double blow as not only is it a permanent permission but also extends the development further into the building beyond, which like the main auditorium, is under the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Lancaster. This further encroachment into the building blocks the entrance and makes access more difficult.

We believe the approval of the proposal does not accord with local or national policy and contains misleading and erroneous information regarding the historic significance of the application site and the main auditorium. This makes the challenge of restoring this wonderful theatre as a cultural and heritage asset for Burnley even greater.

However on a more positive front there is a workshop to be held this Tuesday to discuss ways forward for the Empire. The workshop is to be jointly chaired by the council and the National Trust and will be attended by the Theatres Trust and key stakeholders within Burnley, as well as representative from major public funding bodies.

Find out more about theatre at risk Burnley Empire.