AMBITIOUS re-development plans for a Kent theatre and museum have been boosted by a £2.95million donation.
The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is to give Canterbury council £2 million to buy The Friars garage next door to the Marlowe Theatre and £975,000 towards the restoration and transformation of the Beaney Institute in the city.
As far as the Marlowe is concerned this grant was the final amount of public money the council had been seeking towards the £24million cost of the new theatre.
The council will sell off assets worth £11million to help pay for the project and The New Marlowe Theatre Development Trust has pledged to raise £6million through private donations.
Leader of the council, Cllr John Gilbey, said: "This is splendid news and takes us yet another step closer towards realising our ambitions for both the Marlowe Theatre and the Beaney."
Under the plans the Marlowe will be re-built over three floors on the same, but extended, site. There will be better access with lifts to all floors and more parking spaces for people with disabilities. It will have two auditoriums, one with 1,200 seats and one with about 200.
Other improvements are expected to include a better front-of-house area, a bar on each floor, a cafe, a hospitality suite, courtyard and a new, landscaped riverside walk.
At the Beaney there are plans for a new extension to the back of the building to provide improved access and more space.