A ONCE-thriving theatre is now beyond repair, say engineers who have carried out a survey on what remains of the listed building.

Much of the front of the 125-year-old Royal Opera House in Scarborough had to be taken down because of the risk of it falling into St Thomas Street.

But experts brought in by the site's owners say the walls are not straight, columns are leaning and rot has set in.

Agent Ken Ferrie said: "The columns are listing to such an extent that if we were to try and move them even slightly we could have a collapse. We have made the site safe and secure to make sure no one can get in.

"The building is in a dreadful state of repair and to try and put it back to its original condition just would not be cost effective."

However, English Heritage has to approve its demolition because it is a listed building.

Scarborough Borough Council's head of planning services, Gordon Somerville, said the council was in talks with the owners and their agent to help them produce a planning application for the demolition of the building and a replacement development.

The theatre was owned for many years by York Citizens Theatre Trust and faced demolition in 1975 when it was bought by Scarborough businessman Don Robinson.

It ran as a seaside summer theatre for several years before he sold it to 1960s pop star Peter Jay. It got into financial difficulties when Mr Jay's entertainment enterprises in Great Yarmouth and Blackpool failed.