The latest information regarding work to remove RAAC from The Orchard Theatre.

Update - October 11

We’ve previously said that Dartford Borough Council is working with Trafalgar Theatres to minimise the impact on performances while RAAC is removed from The Orchard Theatre’s roof. This is substantial work and we are determined to minimise the disruption to the theatre, its staff and local businesses that depend on its trade.

As a public authority we operate with full transparency and the process of creating alternative provision during the time the Orchard Theatre is closed is something we are committed to share openly.

Both the Council and Trafalgar Theatres are working hard on alternative arrangements to explore whether performances that would have taken place at The Orchard Theatre can take place within an alternative setting and this item is the first step towards that. We expect to make an announcement within a very short time.

At the heart of all this is our absolute commitment to providing entertainment in the Borough and also carrying out the repairs to the theatre that will see it serving Dartford for many decades to come.

In those circumstances we would ask ticket holders to future performances to wait for further information from The Orchard Theatre

Joint statement from Dartford Borough Council and Trafalgar Theatres - September 15

Following national guidance and advice from building surveyors that Dartford’s Orchard Theatre should be closed last week because of concerns related to Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in the building’s roof, Trafalgar Theatres and Dartford Borough Council (DBC) wanted to give an update on the situation.

We have been greatly touched by the concern and support shown to The Orchard since the announcement. It underscores the huge role our theatre plays in the cultural and economic life of the town. We had no alternative but to close the theatre based on the advice we received but are committed to re-opening to audiences as soon as we can.

We initially confirmed a one-month closure to allow more surveys. These have focused on whether work could be limited to specific parts of the roof and be phased over a period during which performances could continue. It is now clear that a phased approach is not possible.

DBC has therefore begun the process of fast-tracking a full roof replacement project and are engaging with specialist contractors to design and build a new auditorium roof. We may also look to carry out some other improvements during the time the theatre is closed. The works will be substantial, but we have long-term confidence in the venue and that means investing fully to prepare it for decades of future service even if it means a longer period of closure in the short term.

At the same time, Trafalgar Theatres are working with the council to minimise the impact on performances including exploring alternative ways and places to provide shows. We hope to find ways to reduce the impacts on theatre goers, the great team at The Orchard Theatre and the local businesses who benefit from the custom of theatregoers and casts.

We are grateful for the support Trafalgar Theatres has received from the wider arts community, producers, and artists. At the same time, DBC has begun discussions with local groups and amateur societies to ensure they are fully supported too.

Exploring ways to get a performance programme up-and-running will take a short time so, sadly, we will be extending the formal suspension of performances at The Orchard Theatre until at least 31 October. Ticket holders should wait to be contacted by the venue with
information about rescheduled dates or, where this is not possible, full reimbursement. There is no need for customers to contact the theatre at this stage.

Press enquiries: 

For Dartford Borough Council

For Traflagar Theatres Lauren Adair at BLJ

Published: 15th September 2023