Octagon Theatre project on hold

The project to refurbish and extend the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil is to be put in hold. The Theatre closed in May but since then no actual renovation work has taken place.

Instead Somerset Council have had contractors carry out “detailed and intrusive survey work.”

This was required to prepare a more detailed contractor’s specification for the next phase of works. Which could of course mean new costs will be identified as a result.

However the real problem with the project has been South Somerset District Council’s obsession with short term d borrowing. The project finances relied heavily on borrowing over £16m at an assumed interest rate in the order of 2-3%.

With the rise in interest rates in recent months this model is unlikely to be economically viable. The interest repayable was to be offset by ticket sales revenue.

Without significant hikes in ticket prices, that model is unsustainable at current interest rates.

Officers are apparently speaking to funding partners to update them on progress. Shorthand for if they can forward larger grants.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had announced a grant of £10m towards the development.


  • Same old same old Lib/dems.

  • This is a great shame. I love the Octagon and indeed, I even played at its predecessor the Johnson Hall, back in 1974. It’s a shame that it is now closed and in limbo.
    Compare and contrast with the Taunton Brewhouse, which dropped redevelopment plans two years ago because they were too expensive. The Brewhouse continues to thrive while the Octagon is firmly closed.
    I understand that there is now a plan for the town council to barrow £5 million to try to rescue the project. This would be a bold stroke, but i wonder whether they can really justify putting £5 million plus interest on the precept at a time when reel incomes are falling.
    I’m afraid that there might be some push-back, given the cost and time over-runs that have hit the Yeovil Refresh project.
    That said, i hope that another way forward can be found, as the demise of the Octagon would be very sad indeed.

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