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Neath Port Talbot Politics South Wales

Refurbishment works approved for Pontardawe Arts Centre

Pontardawe Arts Centre (Pic: Google)

PLANS for the construction of a new cinema at Pontardawe Arts Centre look set to go ahead this year, after a second set of approvals were granted by Neath Port Talbot Council. 

The proposals to extend the popular Pontardawe Arts Centre, including the addition of a new 70-seat cinema, 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.

However, this initial 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 included 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 and approval of this second set of plans agreed in December of 2023, it means the development at the land-mark Pontardawe site can soon begin, with the expectations being that the work will start towards the end of February.

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.”

A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesperson added: “This project supports the council’s ambitions as outlined in the recently adopted, ground breaking Culture Strategy, highlighting the council’s commitment to investing in culture to boost economic growth and community wellbeing. Pontardawe Arts Centre, which has been a focal point for the community since its reopening in 1996, will now undergo significant improvements, including the new cinema, a relocated bar and ticket office area plus numerous cosmetic improvements.

“The project offers an opportunity not only to revitalise the Pontardawe Arts Centre but also to reduce its annual operating deficit. The new build cinema and improved facilities at the arts centre will bring vibrancy to Pontardawe’s town centre and play a part in local regeneration. Arts Council Wales has also supported this project with significant grant funding being made available. This funding is specific to this project and not available for other purposes.

“Given the enormous pressures on Neath Port Talbot Council’s budgets, in common with other councils across Wales, every avenue is being explored to bring in new funding to support the sustainability of important facilities, like theatres, in the county borough. We are grateful to the Arts Council for providing the funding needed to enhance the Arts Centre which will also help to reduce our ongoing costs.”