DESPITE money being tighter than ever for performance venues The Conquest Theatre in Bromyard is bucking the trend and looking to expand.

Due its growing popularity the venue has outgrown its current size and 5,600 tickets for performances were sold last year.

The current building was constructed in 1991 for around three amateur dramatics performances a year.

Now the venue is used five days a week and hosts a range of events including music concerts, external theatre and dance performances, showing film releases and broadcasting major events.

Fundraising has now begun to expand the venue to include a new cafe and foyer area, and performance area annex.

The project which could cost up to £350,000 has been granted outline planning permission and is in the detailed planning stage.

Chairman of the Conquest Theatre Sarah Handley said that the expansion will help the theatre last another 25 years.

She said: "We feel we need more space and by having a studio next to the foyer area it means that smaller performances will also have a venue.

"By modern standards the foyer area is small for the auditorium size and the existing entrance and coffee bar extension are in poor condition.

"We can also use the extension of the foyer as a meeting space and will revamp the bar and box office facilities."

In the last 25 years technical equipment has been purchased and facilities updated thanks to money fundraised but now a bigger expansion is needed.

Phase one will see the foyer expanded and two will see a new studio created.

"We are hoping to do stages one and two together with a dividing sound proof curtain wall which can then be opened up," added Ms Handley.

"Our next stage is to meet with our architect to get more detailed map drawn up. We can't apply for grant funding without the detailed plans.

"We are a vibrant theatre and are looking to expand our education side. I think we are bucking the trend for theatres by expanding and have to thanks the support we get from the local community."

Phase three of the development could see the front of the theatre moved forward. The theatre has reached an agreement with the council to buy extra land for this stage.