A STUDIO at Westcliff’s Palace Theatre could re-open by the end of the month after Southend Council appointed engineers to begin work on removing the potentially-crumbling concrete which forced it to shut. 

The venue, in the Palace Theatre, in London Road, Westcliff, was closed off after the council discovered the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) on September 7.

The material was used in projects between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s, and it has been the subject of huge national scrutiny, with schools being forced to shut - including more than 50 in Essex. 

Derek Jarvis, Conservative councillor responsible for arts, culture, heritage, and leisure, said: “Structural engineers are starting remedial works in a few weeks’ time.

“The council has been working very closely with Trafalgar Theatres, the operators of the Palace Theatre and the Dixon Studio, and has been making it a key priority.

“It is hoped that once the work has been completed, the Dixon Studio can once again reopen for use by the public and theatre companies by the end of October.

“Also, a long-term plan is being looked at to replace the roof in its entirety.

“I am very proud of the work from the officers on the arts, culture, heritage, and leisure front for acting so swiftly to appoint engineers in order to ensure the Dixon Studio opens back up as quickly as possible.”

The Dixon Studio is a 100-seat studio located on the first floor of the Palace Theatre.

It is frequently used for a variety of small-scale productions, including stand-up comedians, movies, and performances targeting children.

Daniel Cowan, Southend Labour leader, added: “It is fantastic news that the Dixon Studio is not going to be closed for a long-time.

“It is such an important place for our community, especially theatre groups, so it is great to hear they can get back inside shortly.

“All credit must go to the incredible council officers for their hard work and diligence in looking back at architectural drawings of the studio and for discovering the material so quickly.

“It is also great to hear a long-term plan for a new roof is being looked at to ensure it is safe in the future.”