London

Alexandra Palace £28m visitor attraction plans approved

Alexandra Palace Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The BBC launched its first television broadcasts from Alexandra Palace in 1936

Plans to transform Alexandra Palace into a visitor attraction have been approved.

The £28m regeneration will centre on the eastern end of the building, bringing its theatre and a former TV studio space back into use.

Haringey Council approved the proposals on Monday saying they would "preserve this landmark for generations to come".

However, critics have said the plans would destroy the essence of the Muswell Hill landmark.

'People's Palace'

About £16m has been provisionally secured from Heritage Lottery Funding for the restoration, the council said.

Haringey Council Leader Claire Kober said: "Alexandra Palace has become a hugely successful venue, but with parts of the building in a state of serious decay, we have to act now to restore and preserve this landmark for generations to come.

"Opening up the spectacular Victorian theatre and transforming the derelict BBC studios will mean more people can enjoy Alexandra Palace and learn about its rich heritage, while we can be confident of a sustainable future for Haringey's most iconic building."

Image copyright FCBS/Land Design
Image caption Proposals for the main entrance to the building feature a staircase doubling as an auditorium

The plans will also see the bricked-up colonnades along the palace's south terrace opened up to restore them to original designs and improve links to Alexandra Park.

Alexandra Palace, or Ally Pally as it is often known, first opened in 1873 and in 1936 the BBC launched the world's first regular television service from the site.

The new plans will see the Victorian theatre become a performance space and the venue's old BBC studio wing turned into an interactive exhibit detailing its broadcasting history.

A proposed gallery space will also showcase a range of broadcast objects.

Image caption The old BBC offices are set to be turned into a studio experience detailing the venue's broadcasting history

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Alexandra Palace, said: "We are delighted with the planning committee's decision, which allows us to move forward with the project and is a major step in the transformation of Alexandra Palace to realise its full potential as the "People's Palace" once again."

But local resident and architect Stephen Games had raised concerns about the plans.

"A lot of people from around the world are going to want to see it, and what they'll want to see are the studios themselves," he said.

"But you won't be able to see them because they're going to be wrapped up in partitions, covered in video screens and filled with display cases."

Alexandra Palace said, subject to funding, the project would be started in the autumn and is expected to open in 2017.

Alexandra Palace said the application would now be referred to the Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government for determination.

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