THE Alhambra Theatre Trust missed out on potential funding for their new stage school in Dunfermline because of the time it took to get approval from Fife Council.

As a result, they've submitted fresh plans for the Ironmongers Studio on New Row which will now see the project continue in two phases, with the extension to come later.

The application for a change of use of the old Watt & Dewar building, to create a state-of-the-art studio theatre with 200 seats, arthouse cinema, rehearsal rooms, an admin block and space for retail/restaurant, was submitted in October 2017.

It was finally approved by the council in May this year.

A new application has been tabled and a planning statement on behalf of the trust, by agent James Watters, said: "This consent took over 18 months to secure which resulted in the applicants missing deadlines for grant funding to assist with construction of the extension.

"Whilst they are still committed to the extension, it will have to form Phase 2 of the overall development of the site.

"This application covers Phase 1.

"It includes the internal alterations and external works to the existing building covered in the previous application with some minor alterations and formation of a new pedestrian access on the south side of the property and a new pedestrian access from the public car park in Walmer Drive."

The plans approved in May included a single-storey extension – now to go ahead at a later date – new windows, entrance door and a wrought iron staircase. They showed a courtyard area at the front of the extension, with first-floor extension on the north side of the existing building, and a ‘breakout area’ on the ground floor for users to have light refreshments and drinks before or after rehearsal.

The remainder of the ground floor shows the theatre stage school area with an upper gallery area and offices on the first and second floor.

When they submitted their ambitious plans, the trust reckoned the theatre stage school could bring in 25,000 visitors per year and result in an economic impact for Dunfermline of around £240,000 a year.

As well as giving talented young actors, dancers and singers the chance to learn their craft, the Ironmongers Studio will deliver community benefits too, with classes for jobseekers, opportunities to learn production and backstage skills, and drama sessions to help those with mental illness, addiction, disability, emotional and behavioural problems.

In September, they said "preparatory works" had started on the performing arts centre with plans for a phased opening over the next 18 months.

It will also bring a prominent building back into use as the former Watt & Dewar store, a two-and-a-half-storey property, was “in a state of disrepair” after lying empty for more than a decade.

The controversial issue of the adjacent common good land – the trust want to use it as a recreation space and possible outdoor performance area but there have been objections – has yet to be settled.