Dartford’s Orchard Theatre closes with immediate effect due to concrete concerns

A theatre in Dartford town centre has been forced to shut immediately after an inspection revealed concerns over the type of concrete used during construction.

The Orchard has cancelled performances for September at least as further investigations are undertaken.

A statement says that all ticket holders will be refunded. It’s quite a list of cancellations –

September cancellations

As of now performance sin October are not cancelled but it’s a waiting game to find out the extent of work needed.

The Orchard Theatre was constructed using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the 1980s. This is the same material which has seen many schools impacted and courts forced to close in recent days.

Pitched as a cheaper alternative to standard concrete, the material is prone to water entering and weakening structural rigidly before potential collapse.

In a statement the theatre says:

“Dartford Borough Council has been commissioning regular surveys on The Orchard Theatre and the last report from our specialist consultants in April this year continued to report that defects in the RAAC panels in the theatre’s roof were ‘not significant’.

“The Council nevertheless began planning to replace panels in the ‘medium to long term’ in line with the consultant’s advice.

“However, a routine inspection yesterday (Monday), carried out in line with the most recent industry guidance resulted in the consultant making a recommendation to close until such time as further surveys could be carried out and a solution identified.”

Not only is this bad news for the theatre but wider businesses across Dartford who will lose trade from those who will no longer attend shows. In the current environment of high inflation it’s another problem for beleaguered pubs and restaurants.

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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

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