YORK Theatre Royal is to press ahead with a £4.1 million redevelopment after winning £2.9 million in lottery funding from Arts Council England.

The theatre will close for eight months next March so the auditorium can be re-configured and refurbished, foyer space can be increased and the whole building can be made more accessible.

Under the revamp, the colonnade in St Leonard’s Place is set to be enclosed and glazed to double the size of the entrance and cafe areas, and changes to the stage and stalls seating are set to make it easier to switch to theatre-in-the-round for certain productions.

Stalls seating will also be higher, allowing the existing raked stage to be replaced by a flat stage, and a lift will also be installed to improve access to the dress circle and upper foyer.

The Arts Council England award is the most significant investment in the theatre since the foyer was extended in 1967. It comes on top of half a million pounds from City of York Council and £100,000 from trusts and foundations, which leaves the theatre having to raise the remaining half a million pounds of the bill.

Chief Executive Liz Wilson and Artistic Director Damian Cruden said the lottery funding was 'fantastic news' for the theatre and the citizens of York.

"We are very grateful for this investment from Arts Council England, which shows a real commitment to the City and the future of our organisation," they said in a joint statement.

"A theatre has been operating on this site for 270 years and this award means we can continue that tradition. We look forward to sharing our plans over the coming months."

The theatre has also received confirmation of its continued status as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), meaning it will receive an annual grant from Arts Council England to support its work over the next three years.

Ms Wilson said: "We now have the opportunity to plan for what will be the most significant few years in the theatre's history. “