Old Garrison Gym and Mercury Theatre Add to the Planning Drama

A couple more plannng applications to peruse ahead of the Planning [pdf] meeting on 7 September at the Town Hall.

If we’re using words like ‘peruse’ then we should really be on stage – which is just as well seeing as these two offerings are of the theatrical variety.

Enter stage left:

The Former Garrison Gym – Change of use to Theatre Rehearsal Space, and for Community based lettings

The applicant is CBC, the agent is Colchester Borough Homes. This is why it is being heard at Planning.

All above board around these parts.


The gym was built in 1860. Ownership was transferred to CBC in 2010.

The roof and interior was destroyed by fire in June 2013 – which was unfortunate, as from memory, CBC was about to lease it to a church.

God moves in mysterious ways, Comrades.

The proposal now is for a theatre rehearsal space, open from 8am to midnight, seven days a week.

That’s an awful lot of treading the boards…

The Historic Building Officer has commented:

“The proposed location of the Air Handling Unity will be very visible from the street and will fail to preserve the character of the locally listed building or that of the conservation area.”

But apart from that it seems pretty routine.

The Officer report recommends conditional approval.

Enter stage right on the other side of town and Planning will also consider on 7 September:

“Demolition of Mercury House and Food at the Mercury Restaurant; felling of selected trees; construction of 2-3 storey production block; construction of two-storey extension on northeast corner; infill of porte-cochere to provide internal ground floor accommodation; archaeological investigation; landscaping works; and installation of temporary site cabins and storage areas for duration of construction process.”

This being heard by Planning as the land is owned by CBC.

Some of the detail includes:

“Demolishing both the single-storey flat roof restaurant to the north-east corner.

Creating a new box office, entrance lobby, creative learning centre.

New rehearsal spaces for the theatre, drama companies, opera groups and other community spaces to the south.”

It is part of the grand plans for Mercury Rising – an £8.7M extension and refurbishment of the theatre.

This is a project that Colchester Borough Council is leading on, alongside the Mercury Theatre, and that has support and funding from the Arts Council, ECC, and “other bodies too.”

And so therefore it will be approved…


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