World class theatre could be coming to Wells if plans are approved today

Wells could become the first market town in East Anglia to have public showings of world-class theatre from Paris, Moscow and London shown live as they are being performed.

The ambitious plans include regular screenings of shows from Paris Opera House, The Bolshoi, Moscow and National Theatre, London at the Granary Theatre in Wells.

They form part of the long-term �5m renovation of the theatre and Wells Maltings building.

The plans could, however, be hindered with the development committee of North Norfolk District Council due to decide today on whether to grant planning permission to install the large satellite dish which would enable the performances to be shown.

The council's planning officer has recommended refusal because it would be in a conservation area.

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The dish would have a 1.2m diameter and would be on a mounted pole with a maximum height of 3.9m.

It would be placed in the Staithe Street car park, adjacent to The Maltings temporarily and, it is thought, a more suitable location would be found when the rebuilding of The Maltings takes place.

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Becky Jefcoate, project manager for The Wells Maltings development, said: 'We would love to bring this facility to Wells and it fits in perfectly with what we are trying to achieve at The Maltings; to make it a fantastic cultural hub in the centre of Wells.

'The facility allows phenomenal action shots with commentary from experts and, in some ways, the experience will almost be better for the audience than being sat in the theatre.'

She added: 'It is a highly sensitive situation, bringing this large satellite dish to this historic set of buildings. But we really want this to happen and if permission is not granted this time we will have to think of ways of working around it and trying to keep everyone happy.'

At present in East Anglia this facility is only available in Cinema City, Norwich; The Apex, Bury St Edmunds; and a venue in Cambridge.

District councillor Peter Terrington, who is due to speak at today's meeting, said: 'I do have concerns about the visual impact but I feel the benefits of the project outweigh these concerns. I will push for temporary planning permission so the dish can be repositioned once The Maltings development is under way.'

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