Following the recent agreement between South Somerset District Council and Leonardo Finmeccanica, the former Westland Sports & Leisure Complex will now be managed by SSDC after a 30-year lease was signed. This is very exciting news for us here at The Octagon Theatre as the venue will be run as a ‘sister venue’ to theatre. As a team, we have been asked to take on the role of managing and developing the newly refurbished venue when the entertainment facility opens.
The petition to save Westlands was signed by over 8,000 people, officially the largest petition ever submitted to SSDC, and it is fantastic to see the public support to make the facility a vibrant new entertainment and sporting centre for the region. A £2 million refurbishment is taking place to improve the facilities for guests and artists.
Work started on site on 27th June and the artist’s impressions of the refurbished building promise a fresh, exciting new feel to the building. The refurbished sports facilities are anticipated to open in January 2017 with the main complex opening in late-February / early March 2017. This refurbishment aims to transform the complex into a premier entertainment and sporting facility for South Somerset and beyond.
Another intriguing aspect to the re-development of the complex is the renaming process. A competition took place through the Western Gazette to ask the general public for name suggestions which have now been shortlisted with a final name to be announced soon! The rebranding will welcome a new era for the facility, securing it as a facility that belongs to all the residents of South Somerset – an era that we cannot wait to be a part of.
Perhaps what we are most looking forward to with SSDC’s taking over of the venue is the chance to develop a sister venue to the already flourishing Octagon Theatre. The prospect of a new venue which can offer a whole new range of live entertainment to compliment The Octagon’s current programme is an exciting one for our team currently working at The Octagon. We are very much looking forward to the new challenges and experiences that come with building a significant entertainment and conference venue within an already bustling town. The new venue will also have a strengthening impact on The Octagon as two combined venues will provide many more opportunities for the promoters, suppliers and businesses we are already working with.
The new venue will offer a seated capacity of just under 900, with the installation of a stylish retractable seating bank, or the option of 1,400 standing in the main ballroom. The ballroom will also have state of the art lighting and sound equipment for live music and comedy. This will offer an entirely new performance and conference experience as The Octagon Theatre’s current capacity is 622. The retractable seating will also allow for other events including balls, exhibitions and trade fairs which Yeovil does not currently have a large-scale, purpose-built venue for. The superb ballroom dance floor will be preserved and we hope to attract more dance events and competitions.
As well as the stunning ballroom the complex will also boast function rooms with the flexibility to suit all occasions. The work of the architects and the project team have ensured that the venue’s potential has been fully explored and so the newly refurbished building will cement Yeovil’s reputation as ‘the destination’ for entertainment and leisure for local businesses, residents and visitors from South Somerset and beyond.
We hope that this sister venue will be yet another inspiring place that will be a source of joy and entertainment for generations. We very much look forward to sharing more development news with you as the refurbishment and rebranding takes place. Thank you to all those who have offered their unwavering support for this exciting new venture for Yeovil.
We will be sure to update our website with all the latest news about the site’s development: http://www.octagon-theatre.co.uk/westlands-sports-leisure-complex/westlandssportsandampleisurecomplex/