The future of a theatre built as a studio by British film director Cecil Hepworth is uncertain as a council looks into other locations for an arts venue.

Elmbridge Borough Council is set to undertake a review of Cecil Hepworth Playhouse as it looks to increase capacity. 

This will include a study into its current location in Hepworth Way, Walton-on-Thames, as well as looking at other sites to house a new 200-seater theatre and arts venue.

A number of studies and consultations have taken place over the years regarding the future of the playhouse, but officers say a recent condition survey identified a “relatively small number of remedial works” needed over the next five to 10 years.

This is expected to cost around £50,000 so councillors agreed to continue running the playhouse in the short term but asked officers to investigate a replacement facility to meet the needs of the borough, theatre groups and audiences.

In a wish list of needs from the theatre, the council wants a 200-seater venue for all performing arts groups in the area including dance, music and theatre.

The playhouse currently holds 90 folding chairs and 84 additional seats and forms part of the leisure management contract with Places Leisure. This contract is due to end in August 2021, and in September 2018 Elmbridge cabinet members agreed not to include it in their new leisure contract.

Riverhouse Barn has expressed interest in managing the playhouse on an interim basis.

A report to be considered by cabinet members on Wednesday (January 9) looking into the future of the playhouse states: “Officers will undertake a site options appraisal, focussing initially on the existing site but potentially expanding to incorporate other potential sites.

“Each site will be evaluated against the vision, key objectives, core facility mix, capital cost estimates, impact on revenue budget, impact on continuity of provision, maintenance, lifespan of asset, timescale for build, external sources of funding etc.”

A further report will be presented at cabinet’s June meeting.

Walton Playhouse underwent a £350,000 refurbishment in 2012. The building originally formed part of Hepworth Film Studios and was turned into a theatre in 1925 after the studios closed.