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Penarth Pier Pavilion could become a venue similar to Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre

11 May 2021 3 minute read
Penarth Pier Pavilion. Photo Alex Seabrook.

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

Penarth Pier Pavilion could turn into a similar venue as Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, according to a new report.

The children’s section of Penarth Library will also move temporarily to the iconic art deco building on the Esplanade, which was recently taken over by Vale of Glamorgan council.

More than a thousand people responded to a public consultation on what should happen next with the pavilion, with many supporting something similar to Chapter.

Details of the responses to the consultation were revealed in a report to the council’s cabinet, which meets on Wednesday, May 12, as well as the costs of recent repair work.


The pavilion building first opened in 1929. It was used for dances during the second world war, and a nightclub in the 1950s and 60s. The building fell into disrepair about a decade ago, but a charity called Penarth Arts and Craft Limited spent lottery funding on renovation.

Then the pavilion reopened in 2013 as an arts and culture venue with a cinema, exhibition space, meeting rooms and a cafe. However, the charity later struggled with directors leaving and challenging trading conditions, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Towards the end of last year, the charity entered discussions with the Vale council and the National Lottery about what could be done. The council then took over control of the building last February, and asked the public for suggestions about how the pavilion should be used.

A new cafe has opened in the pavilion, run by the council’s arm’s length Big Fresh Catering Company. All profits from this company are put into providing healthy meals for schools.

Essential repairs and maintenance have also been carried out on the building, including replacing the air conditioning; repairing the lighting, fire doors, and gas boilers; and testing the lift, water hygiene, and fire alarms. Initial works have cost about £160,000.

The kitchen has also seen repairs and cleaning; outside walls have been cleaned and the decking jet washed; tables have been sanded and resealed; and a broken window was replaced. Public wifi has been improved and the cinema projector has been maintained.

The children’s section of Penarth Library will temporarily be relocated to the pavilion. The section is currently not well ventilated enough to be Covid-secure, but it should be in the pavilion. Regular activities like Story Time will be held at the pavilion.

The building could also soon host live music and a bar, as the council is applying for licences to play music and serve alcohol there.

More than 1,000 people responded to a public consultation on what should happen next with the building from March 17 until April 21. Most would like to see included in the plans a cinema, cafe, bar or street food space; also with live music, theatre and comedy shows.

Some respondents suggested the pavilion could run similar to Chapter Arts in Cardiff. Council bosses are now drawing up a business plan which should include firmer details on what will happen next to the building. The council is also hiring a pavilion manager.

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