PLANS to renovate one of Romsey’s most iconic landmarks have finally been approved following a five-month battle against rejected proposals to raise its roof.

The Plaza Theatre was due to begin its biggest revamp for 40 years this summer after submitting proposals to make a number of improvements to the building.

However, Test Valley Borough Council refused the scheme to raise the roof of the iconic building five foot as, they say, it would block sunlight and be too overbearing for neighbouring houses.

Now Planning Inspectorate have approved the plans, but the renovation will now take a lot longer.

Romsey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (RAODS) Neil Gwynne has said that the process was “frustrating”.

He said: “The Plaza will finally look more like a theatre instead of a converted cinema – which of course it is.

“Our group and lots of people who support us were very surprised by the rejection. It was approved very quickly after we appealed the refusal but it has cost us in £5,000.”

Previously dubbed a “landmark” moment in the theatre’s history, the renovation will cost £300,000, will allow for more space in its rear and refurbishments to its auditorium as well as a lift to bring props and sets onto the stage.

Neil said the decision has set them back “two to three years”.

As previously reported in October, the renovation focusses on the back of the building and involves refitting the theatre hall and extending its roof to prevent leaks.

The society will be spending £135,000 this summer on internal improvements to the building.

“We want to make people aware that they will be able to see some improvements inside from August but the work on the new roof will not be able to begin this summer,” said the chairman.

Raising the roof will provide space to incorporate more specialist equipment to enhance sets – including the ability to raise the lighting from the ground without having to climb up ladders and scaffolding.

RAODS – which converted the building into a theatre in 1982 – will commit more than £100,000 of its funds for the project.