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Palace Theatre could become new Swansea tech hub

Plans for the restoration and conversion of Swansea’s historic Palace Theatre building have been unveiled.

They would see the 132-year-old structure become an eye-catching new six-storey home to exciting young tech and creative businesses.

Swansea’s Palace Theatre building today.

The public now has the chance to comment on the plans.

They show the building’s structure maintained with the retention and restoration of original historic features and the reinstatement of other historic features.

The interior includes dramatic mezzanine floors that look down towards a stage – as theatre audiences once would have done.

Auditorium balustrading would be reinstated and restored. The stage would be retained to enable small performances. A section of tiered seating would be retained to form social seating and presentation space.

The main entrance would stay in High Street with a secondary entrance re-established – and canopies reinstated.

Pavement lights would be reinstated to provide natural light for the basement.

The vision includes:

  • Around 1,200 square metres of high-quality office space
  • Access and storage facilities for cycles
  • Workspaces for more than 130 people
  • 10 meeting rooms with a total capacity of more than 50

The plans have been assisted by the public through the Friends of Place Theatre Group and a dedicated Facebook page and by others through engagement with Welsh historic monuments body CADW, council officers, the Theatres Trust and the Victorian Society.

The vision is the creation of high quality and desirable commercial office space to accommodate co-working companies and individuals, within the restored and converted grade two listed building that retains many original elements to complement modern facilities.

Swansea Council wants to develop the building and is looking for a tenant business to run it.

GWP Architecture is leading the Palace project as part of a highly experienced design team

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “We’re preserving this landmark city centre building and now have plans which help point the way forward.

“The sense of the theatre is to be retained within the building wherever possible, with the opportunity for workspaces to be laid out overlooking the original auditorium void towards the stage on split levels.

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“Our plan will help transform the High Street area – already benefiting from many millions of private investment – and will help our exciting regeneration work across the city centre.

“We thank the public and business for their input so far – and ask them to give us feedback on the new plans that they’ve already greatly influenced.”

The public now has the chance to comment on the plans through an early-stage planning application process known as a pre-application consultation.

Comment on the plans here – www.bit.ly/PalacePlan070820.

Once public feedback has been taken into account, a full planning application will be made this year. If planning permission is granted, transformation work could start this year with it opening in 2022.

The building is one of Swansea’s key regeneration projects now underway.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “The Palace building is being brought back to life with a modern commercial focus.

“This will help the council continue its work on redeveloping the High Street area and Swansea city centre as a whole.

“We want the Palace’s renovation to help make it a focal point for creative businesses, small to medium-sized enterprises and start-ups.

“We also want to retain the potential for smaller scale performances, events and conferencing.”

The site stands close to Swansea’s High Street Station at the heart of the city centre.

Swansea’s Palace Theatre building as it was in days gone by.

The Palace, when operating as a theatre, staged performances by stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Sir Anthony Hopkins. It was last used 14 years ago as a nightclub.

The council bought the building from private owners this year and wants to make the Palace a focal point for creative businesses, complementing other city centre bases for such enterprise.

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