COLCHESTER’S Mercury Theatre is set to be transformed after bosses raised nearly £9 million for its redevelopment.

It has been confirmed the Mercury Rising project will go ahead after a final award of £1.2 million from European Union’s European Regional Development Fund.

The project will see the theatre renovated, improving and extending audience, production and workshop facilities.

The entire building will be fully disabled-accessible as well as introducing an all-day café, an “incubation” space to support creative talent from across the region, and a new home for all of the Mercury’s creative learning and community activities.

Executive director Steve Mannix said: “The Mercury Theatre is at the centre of Colchester’s community and economy.

READ MORE: Mercury Theatre and Church Street Tavern strike up new partnership

“Audiences are growing year on year as our work grows in scale and ambition, while the theatre supports more and more jobs in the local economy.

“This is a pivotal moment for the theatre and for the region – a moment of opportunity for us to push artistic boundaries, to better our facilities for the community, and to develop the regional economy by providing a creative hub of national standing for the east of England.”

With just £500,000 left to raise, the total committed so far has now reached £8.5 million, the minimum threshold for work on site to begin.

The funds have been secured from a range of national and regional funding bodies.

The demolition of the site will begin later this month.

The project is being managed by Colchester Council and the demolition will be carried out by Phelan Construction.

The Mercury has agreed at least £7 million of the total budget will be spent locally in order to help create and sustain local employment.

The building work will not affect audiences until mid-2019, at which point the theatre will take a season of work out to a temporary off-site performance space so work can commence on the main theatre.

The project is due for completion the following year.

Tim Young, Colchester councillor responsible for business and culture, said: “This project will cement the borough’s place as a centre for arts, and I am proud the council is playing a key part.”