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Plans submitted for new cinema at historic arts centre

01 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Pontardawe Arts Centre

Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter

Plans for the construction of a new cinema at an arts centre, which dates back to the early part of the 20th century, have been submitted for approval for a second time.

The proposals to extend the popular Pontardawe Arts Centre, including the addition of a new 70-seat cinema once completed, were conditionally granted by Neath Port Talbot Council’s planning department in March of 2023.

They included plans to build a new extension to the existing arts centre with a purpose-built cinema and toilet facilities, as well as internal reconfiguration and refurbishments to provide an improved reception area and café.

Historic building

However, its overall approval was given on the basis that a number of conditions were first met, including the undertaking of a historic building recording survey, as the building is said to be of architectural and cultural significance to the area.

Developers also had to add the submission of a flood attenuation and storage plan, which will include a storm water attenuation tank and flood water compensation tank, built under the building to hold and disperse water in case of flooding during a storm.

With the submission of these additional documents, the proposals will now go before the council’s planning authority again for a final approval before works at the site can begin.

A report within the plans read: “Having hosted regular cinema showings, Pontardawe Arts Centre has identified that there is a significant opportunity to now expand its film offer to include ‘first release’ blockbusters as well as art house movies within a new dedicated cinema space.

“Works to Pontardawe Art Centre are to build a new cinema extension, as well as works to reconfigure the ground floor bar and café spaces to improve the operation of the centre.”

Pontardawe Arts Centre first opened in May 1909 and was first known as the Pontardawe Public Hall and Institute.

At the time the town’s civic leaders wanted to “provide an opening for the introduction of best literary and musical talent which will have an inspiring and elevating influence on the life of the place.”

The arts centre was originally paid for by the workers through a subscription scheme, and featured a 1,500-seat theatre, meeting rooms, offices, a billiard hall, library and reading rooms.

After years of neglect, the centre reopened in 1996 housing a new box office, the Oriel Lliw Art Gallery, a dance studio, meeting rooms and offices, the snooker hall, a theatre bar, the auditorium and town cinema.

A council spokesperson discussing the project said“The project is continuing to go through the planning process and  all information relating to the application will be available on our website.”

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