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Council narrows theatre field

CONTRACTS LEEDS

JUST two firms are left on the casting couch for the lead role to revamp Leeds Grand Theatre at a cost of £31 million.

Wates and Laing O'Rourke are believed to be clearing their throats for their final pitches to project clients, the city council and opera company Opera North.

Totty, which is based in nearby Bradford, has missed out on the deal while HBG and Allenbuild, which both have a strong presence in the city, prequalified but opted out of the tender.

Another Sheffield-based firm, Banner, was also thought to have shown initial interest.

The winning team will be responsible for the creation of a 350-seat auditorium plus refurbishment of the adjoining assembly room, which was built in 1879 at the same time as the theatre.

Work will include moving back the middle balcony of seating and returning it to its original form.

Rehearsal rooms will also be built, as will two bridge links, and the theatre's Victorian features will be restored.Work will start this June and is expected to last 15 months.