Anger over closure of Packington Estate community theatre

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Concerned resident
Reima Baker, outside the theatre

A community theatre which provides children on the Packington Estate with professional training is to be demolished to make way for a new housing development.

Its founder, Reima Baker, is concerned that the theatre will have to close permanently if a compulsory purchase order is made by the council, because it will not cover the costs of a new property.

”I wanted the council to help me find a new space,” said Ms Baker. ”But the one they offered me was far too small for a theatre.

The Precinct Theatre was established in 2001, with the aim of develop the artistic and communication skills of local children. Ms Baker said: “Coming here gives the kids not just acting ability, but the confidence to do whatever they want in life.”

The Packington Estate is currently being redeveloped by the Hyde Housing Association, as part of a regeneration project which was initiated by the council in 2004.

Residents’ Reactions

Frankie Collins, 20, a former pupil at the theatre, believes that the area will become significantly worse if the theatre closes. ”When I started going to the theatre at the age of 14, I was involved in a gang, and I had run-ins with the police. It totally changed me and my behaviour.”

”The estate has a problem with crime, and the theatre is a chance for kids to get off the street. If the theatre closes, there will be an increase in crime in the area.”

Photo credit – Alexa Phillios