£1.1m to fix Royal and Derngate’s dangerous RAAC roof

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Repair works, worth £1.1 million, to fix the roof of a Northampton theatre which contains high-risk concrete have been given the green light.

The Royal & Derngate (R&D) is an iconic venue that brings visitors into the heart of Northampton to watch musicals, comedy gigs and family shows live on stage. The theatre had to close its doors last September when Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) was discovered in its foyers.

West Northamptonshire Council, which is responsible for the maintenance of the building as the landlord, has now approved a schedule of repairs to install a support system to give the structure more strength and extend the roof’s lifespan.

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Surveys carried out last year found the lightweight concrete planks were in a ‘good condition’ and would not require a complete roof replacement as originally feared. However, the report did stress the need for timely remedial works as there was still the potential for “sudden catastrophic failure”.

The roof would need to be checked annually for degradation but should extend the life of the current RAAC roof by at least 30 years.The roof would need to be checked annually for degradation but should extend the life of the current RAAC roof by at least 30 years.
The roof would need to be checked annually for degradation but should extend the life of the current RAAC roof by at least 30 years.

Cllr Malcolm Longley, portfolio holder for finance at WNC, told the cabinet meeting on Tuesday (June 11) that the £1.1m roof reinforcement works would “fix the problem for decades but not forever”.

He added that the other option to replace the entire roof- which has been estimated to cost £2.3m- wasn’t necessary at this stage as it would impact the revenue of the theatre as it would likely have to shut its doors once again to facilitate the replacement works.

The steel and timber support system in comparison would take around 20 weeks and would be phased to allow for the maximum theatre space to be open at any given time. The roof would need to be checked annually for degradation but should extend the life of the current RAAC roof by at least 30 years.

WNC is now able to begin the procurement process to hire contractors for the structural support repairs.

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