Corn Exchange to undergo ‘major refurbishment’

The Corn Exchange and Brighton Dome
The Corn Exchange and Brighton Dome

Renovation works at Brighton venue the Corn Exchange are set to begin in February.

The move is part of a major project to overhaul the Royal Pavilion Estate, which includes The Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Royal Pavilion Garden, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Brighton Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre.

Corn Exchange cross section west (Image: FCBStudios)

Corn Exchange cross section west (Image: FCBStudios)

The project is to be delivered in three phases and is set to ‘reinvigorate and reconnect the buildings and landscape’ of the Estate.

Phase one will begin with a major refurbishment of the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre by construction company R. Durtnell & Sons Limited.

The family-run business from Kent, founded in 1591, has worked on a number of high-profile heritage restorations including Dulwich Picture Gallery, Turner Contemporary in Margate, and Brighton College’s music school.

Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, said: “We are delighted to have appointed such an established family-owned business as the contractor to begin works on the restoration and transformation of our historic Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. As well as safeguarding this important heritage for the future, the works will encourage new audiences, support artist development and transform visitors’ experience of the venues. It will deliver improvements in accessibility, facilities and infrastructure, and will benefit local residents, community groups, schools, artists, tourists, the regional digital community and local businesses amongst others.”

Studio Theatre entrance and cafe at New Road  (Image: FCBStudios)

Studio Theatre entrance and cafe at New Road (Image: FCBStudios)

The transformation of the Corn Exchange, formerly the Prince Regent’s riding house, is set to reveal and restore previously hidden heritage features as well as providing extra seating and a new viewing gallery. Major improvements to the Studio Theatre, once a supper room, will include balcony seating, a new artists’ creation space and a café opening onto a plaza at street level.

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “This is the start of another ambitious project the council and partners have worked hard to bring to fruition.

“The Royal Pavilion Estate attracts visitors from all over the world and the venues make a significant economic contribution to Brighton and Hove. The buildings are magnificent but they are facing unique challenges and are in need of refurbishment and upgrade.

“We are very relieved and proud to have found a viable way forward to restore and safeguard these treasured buildings for years to come and look forward to seeing phase one of the project brought to life by the newly appointed construction team.”

New Corn Exchange viewing gallery  (Image: FCBStudios)

New Corn Exchange viewing gallery (Image: FCBStudios)

Much of the £21m funding for phase one came from Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as from a number of charitable trusts, individual donors, council capital funding and a public works loan secured by the council on behalf of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. The council said fundraising will continue throughout the build.

Brighton Dome Concert Hall will remain open throughout the redevelopment period.