Reading audiences will have the best seats in the house after plans to breathe life into the Hexagon by adding a new studio theatre have been approved by the Council.

Reading Borough Council’s plans include a striking new accessible public entrance with a welcoming public area and flexible community space.

Behind the new front door, a new studio auditorium is set to be built with a capacity of up to 300.

This versatile space, designed by the award-winning Haworth Tompkins architects of London’s Bridge Theatre, will allow for a variety of seating and standing configurations creating opportunities for different kinds of audience participation and enabling a wider range of performances to be staged in the town.

The new studio theatre will be connected to the much-loved Hexagon with the entrance directly accessed from Queens Walk to improve accessibility which will also be enhanced with a Changing Places Toilet.

The extension and refurbishment of this much-loved venue will include a welcoming café, bar, a rooftop terrace, and rehearsal and workshop rooms for community use.

A single-storey backstage and performer area will be demolished to allow for the new building to be created, which will include improved dressing rooms, a wardrobe department, and more production and rehearsal spaces.

Heating the venue will come from a sustainable heat source in line with Reading’s ambition to create a net-zero carbon town by 2030.

The significant investment will secure the future of the Hexagon for several more decades adding to its successful 45-year history.

Importantly, the Hexagon will remain open, and productions will continue to go ahead during this significant transformation.

Chief Executive Jackie Yates said: “Reading’s Hexagon Theatre has been a much-loved venue for residents and visitors alike since 1977.

“From introducing children to theatre through its legendary panto, which has just enjoyed another hugely successful year, to huge names gracing the stage from comedy giants, bands, dancers, and plays, The Hexagon has played a special role in very many people’s lives.

“The Council wants to continue to attract the biggest names to our venues, while at the same time providing another more versatile space for alternative and more intimate productions. Importantly, it will also be available to hire by the community."

The Council’s proposed theatre development is at the centre of its wider ambition to create a vibrant new ‘Minster Quarter’.

Plans for the area include building hundreds of new homes, including much needed affordable homes and creating a vibrant thriving new community at the heart of the town.

The development will bring new jobs and growth to the local economy which aligns with the Council’s vision of ensuring everyone in Reading can benefit from the town’s success.

The investment has been made possible through a successful bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund of £19.1m to improve the cultural facilities in Reading.

The money will also be used to create a new modern Central Library and redesigned reception at the Civic Centre in Bridge Street.