Dramatic plans have been unveiled to transform the Komedia, in Gardner Street, Brighton.

The project is being timed to run alongside the library development in Jubilee Street and it is hoped both schemes will help regenerate the North Laine.

The Komedia hopes to increase its size by about a third by expanding behind its current building on to Regent Street.

The development includes plans for a four-storey extension, which would increase the 230 seat cabaret area to about 350 seats and house offices and rehearsal and workshop spaces.

A new theatre bar for up to 210 people and a terrace area would also be built.

A glass winter garden and seating area would be created in partnership with a flower shop.

The plans include improved disabled facilities, a passenger lift, improved dressing rooms, a larger box office, new toilets and two public walkways from Regent Street on to Gardner Street.

The Komedia also hopes to restore an adjoining 19th Century warehouse and convert it into performance workshop areas.

Komedia director Colin Granger said: "We can't develop inside any more. There are so many problems at the moment. There is no office space and many of us have to work from home. There is no space for rehearsals and the performers have to get changed in a large cupboard.

"There are so many limitations because we have got a great space for performances but nothing besides."

Mr Granger said he hoped the development would bring in more revenue to the theatre, which is mostly privately funded, and boost local theatre companies by providing much-needed rehearsal space and technical facilities.

The Komedia moved from Manchester Street to Gardner Street in 1998. It had to find the money to buy the premises privately after its National Lottry bid was turned down.

It plans to apply for regeneration grants to cover part of the cost of the planned development, which would involve land owned by Brighton and Hove Council. If planning approval is granted, the new premises will open early in 2002.