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Elstree and Borehamwood Residents Association launches petition to save The Ark Theatre in Borehamwood
Campaigners are looking for support to prevent the temporary closure of a theatre at the heart of the community.
Hertswood Academy, which is split over two sites, plans to sell off its Thrift Farm Lane site, which houses the Ark Theatre, for housing, and build a new school and theatre on its Cowley Hill site.
Elstree and Borehamwood Residents Association has launched a petition asking Hertswood Academy and Hertsmere Borough Council to stop demolition until a replacement is up and running.
The petition also asks the school and the council to consider building the new theatre in the centre of Borehamwood.
Lawrence Stack has gathered nearly 200 signatures since Tuesday from a stall outside 96 Shenley Road.
The Croxdale Road resident has attended almost every show the theatre has put on this season and is himself donning a Santa suit to be involved in its pantomime.
He said: “I am passionate about saving the Ark. If it closes down, even for a few years, there will be a huge gap left in the town.
“We were promised a theatre 20 years ago, it is wrong they should knock down the Ark Theatre after it has only been open since 2009.
“The Cowley Hill site would be totally unsuitable for a theatre. There is little parking and it is miles away from the town centre and the station."
Mr Stack said the theatre was built on land owned by the public and the council until the school gained academy status, and the public should therefore had a say in where a replacement should be built.
He added selling the Thrift Farm Lane site would earn the school £35million and a new school would cost £25m to build.
“Why can’t they give us £3.5m needed to build a theatre in the centre of the town that the whole community can access?
"People who come up to me to sign the petition say they don’t use the theatre at the moment because it is so out of the way and poorly advertised, it would be even worse on the new site.
“Instead the theatre should be built in the town centre, on the site of the old library, where it is easily seen and so can attract bigger names."
Hertswood Academy headteacher Peter Gillett said: “Last month, following the publication of our plans to build a wonderful new school for current and future generations of Borehamwood residents, we invited comments through our website at www.hertswoodacademy.org.
“Some of the responses indicate a concern about closing the Ark Theatre while a new theatre is built on our lower site as part of the new academy. The academy has responded to all the comments made on these and other issues.
"We have not yet seen the petition but will, of course, give it due consideration if it is sent to us.”
Copies of the petition can be found at Barnados and the musuem in Shenley Road and in Meryfield Primary School.
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