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Peterborough panto escapes RAAC and ruin

19 Dec 23 Quick work by engineers from Pick Everard and contractor Lindum Group has saved Peterborough’s panto season.

"Oh yes it is..." the Key Theatre stays open for panto season
"Oh yes it is..." the Key Theatre stays open for panto season

Following the panic over reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) earlier this year, Peterborough City Council employed Pick Everard to carry out urgent surveys and feasibility studies at the city’s Key Theatre, where RAAC panels had been identified in the roof.

The surveys came back with an immediate “red” failure on the reports.

While the discovery of dodgy RAAC panels led to the closure of more than 100 schools in September, just as pupils prepared to return from their summer holidays, Peterborough was not prepared to close the Key Theatre just as panto season was getting under way.

“Panto season is such an important one for theatres, particularly from a business perspective in the current climate, so a key aim remained making sure that it could go ahead,” said Pick Everard director Jenny Curtlin.

To ensure the theatre’s seasonal production could go ahead, Pick Everard devised a plan to design a secondary roof system underneath the main roof inside the main auditorium. With a timber design, materials were able to be procured very quickly utilising the local supply chain, allowing contractor Lindum to complete the installation within a matter of weeks.

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“That very pressing timescale meant that permanent removal of the roof was not an option until further down the line, so the project team mobilised a temporary solution with the secondary roof structure. Being able to pull together to get the work underway so quickly was critical, and the most impressive part of this project has been the speed from everyone involved,” explained Curtlin.

The new internal structure provides extra support for the main roof, around which the lighting and sets have been installed as normal, and ensures the safety of public, staff and stage crew.

Councillor John Howard, deputy leader of the council, said: “It seems the genie granted Aladdin his wish and everyone who has booked tickets for the panto will be able to enjoy the show this Christmas.

“I’d like to thank the contractors who worked at pace to complete the project on time.”

The council has also confirmed that a longer-term solution is already underway, with a complete roof replacement already in the design phase to make sure the theatre can remain a key part of Peterborough’s landscape for years to come.

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