PLANS to tear down the Palace Theatre's three-storey extension and replace it with a contemporary design has been given the full backing of Redditch's planning committee.

But there were concerns about the "stark" look of the new glass extension.

Councillors backed plans to rebuild the theatre's entire 1970s section and to revamp the original Grade II listed building.

The original design by architect Bertie Crew will be restored to its former splendour with some practical alterations, new seating and drapes and restoration of the old interior and paintwork.

But the new extension will be deliberately modern, with a curved roof and a transparent wall of metal and glass.

Councillor Mark Shurmer said some members on the planning committee initially felt some "disquiet" about the new extension and that the plans in isolation looked a "bit stark".

But he said a discussion with architect, Peter Hall, put their minds at rest and members voted unanimously for it.

Mr Shurmer said: "The designs succeeded in generating discussion, which is the whole point of public artwork.

"The finished product will be a rich mixture of old and new. The theatre is going to become a very important focal point for Redditch."

The council's theatre and arts development manager, Jonathan Cochrane, said the council, its partners and research group Theatresearch had worked hard to ensure ideas for the theatre would benefit the entire community.

He said: "We are particularly happy with the creation of extra space and I'm very excited at the prospect of the theatre being restored to its former glory, in keeping with its heritage."

Work on the project is set to begin in April.