Plans revealed for permanent Nevill Holt theatre

An artist's impression of the theatre
An artist's impression of the theatre

Ambitious plans to create a permanent theatre in the hamlet of Nevill Holt have been revealed.

Businessman David Ross, who owns Nevill Holt Hall and the entire hamlet of Nevill Holt, told the Mail this week about his “ambitious and major plans” to create a permanent theatre at the site which would blend sympathetically with the historic stable block near the hall.

At the moment, he has planning permission for a temporary theatre.

Mr Ross told the Mail his team plans to work with English Heritage to make a “significant investment” in creating a permanent site.

Work could start next year or in 2016, depending on planning permission.

This year is the second year where Mr Ross’ own independent team is organising the events, after 10 years being run by Hampshire-based Grange Park Opera.

He took the leap to go it alone with the Nevill Holt Opera company because he wanted to create something “for the people of Harborough, by the people of Harborough” and he tries to use local people as much as possible, from set designers and set builders to admin roles and caterers.

He is an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to opera, he told the Mail, but is supported by enthusiastic professionals who use their contacts to bring in the big names.

La Boheme, directed by Ashley Page, launches this year’s season on June 26 with tickets already sold out for three of the four shows. Seats remain for the Sunday, June 29, matinee at 3,30pm.

Turn of the Screw, featuring the director/designer team of Oliver Mears and Anne Marie Woods, is being staged on July 5 and 6 with tickets still available.

Mr Ross attends every show of the Nevill Holt season.

He has also been building up an impressive sculpture garden in the grounds of his home in recent years, which opera-goers can look around.

Mr Ross is one of the Harborough district’s richest people, with a profile in The Sunday Times Rich List putting his net worth at £710m last year.

The Carphone Warehouse co-founder is a former owner of St Mary’s Place shopping centre in Harborough, which he sold to the real estate arm of Deutsche Bank in September 2011, reportedly for £18.7m.

He said: “I love Market Harborough and it has a great future, it was no reflection on the town. It was just the retail property market at the time.”

Mr Ross says he splits his time between London and Nevill Holt.

He is proud that Nevill Holt Hall has played host to the Century Cycle Challenge for the past eight years which raises thousands of pounds for good causes each May.

He bought the hall, a former prep school, in 1999.

The David Ross Foundation is heavily involved in education and has sponsored academies in Kettering and Corby.

He is in talks with a Welland Valley school, not far from Nevill Holt he said, to provide sponsorship but cannot release a name yet.