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Work begins on Palace Theatre regeneration

Palace Theatre. Photo credit: Swansea Council

The public will see the first visible signs of regeneration work on an historic Swansea building this week.

Contractors working on behalf of Swansea Council will put up safety hoardings around the city centre’s 132-year-old former Palace Theatre.

How the Palace Theatre looked in the past. Credit: Swansea Council

The temporary boards are designed to improve safety at the wedge-shaped site – and to tidy up the area immediately around the run-down building.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “Having taken this landmark building out of private ownership we’re now at the very early stages of breathing new life into the Palace.

“It’s a much-admired old location, has an incredible history, is Grade 2 listed and now has a bright future.

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

The tall red hoardings will circle the building and Bethesda Street, the short lane on the Palace’s northern side.

The street will remain closed for the duration of the project; pedestrians, cyclists and motorists will be able to use the neighbouring Prince of Wales Road instead. Notices have been issued.

The hoardings will allow contractors to install temporary lighting in the darkened former theatre, cinema, bingo hall and nightclub which was last open 14 years ago. This will enable further works to be undertaken on surveys and improving safety.

In the coming months, other contractors will install safety scaffolding inside the building and will carefully clear out and sort through several tonnes of waste material and decrepit fixtures and fittings. This includes items such as flooring, plasterboard walls and rotted ceiling panels that will be retained for further analysis as part of the building’s heritage and conservation-focused redevelopment.

Other work due to be carried out over the coming weeks includes the cleaning of drainage and a night-time bat survey.

Interior elements with a heritage value and the building’s exterior structure and architectural aesthetic are set to be restored and retained.

Meanwhile, the project’s design team, led by experienced GWP Architecture, will continue to consider how the structure should be best preserved and used for future generations.

The work will be overseen by dedicated council officers. It will be carried out in line with Government guidance on construction and social distancing.

The Palace, when operating as a theatre, staged performances by stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

The council bought the building from private owners this year and is confident that a grant bid will succeed to help make the Palace a future focal point for creative businesses, complementing other city centre bases for such enterprise.

It wants to redevelop the Palace as modern office space. The transformation will be carried out with the help of independent grant funding.

The design and build programme could take around another two years.

Potential business partners are being encouraged to submit ideas on how they – as lead tenant – would run or manage the Palace.

The community can play a key role in helping give the Palace the brightest of futures. GWP Architecture are asking the public to share their memories, photos and other information from the venue.

This information – being collected via www.facebook.com/PalaceTheatreRedevelopment – will become part of the team’s thinking as they start drawing up new designs.