AMBITIOUS £8 million plans to transform Southend’s landmark theatre have been approved.
Rejuvenation plans for the Cliffs Pavilion will include an expansion of the current restaurant, catering for 158 guests compared to a previous 100.
A modern, brighter, more welcoming entrance and lobby and a stunning new outdoor plaza are also planned, in addition to improvement work to the bar, toilets, and lifts.
Speaking at a development control meeting, Martin Berry, Labour councillor for St Luke’s ward, said: “I like it and can’t imagine anybody is going to object to any aspect of it.
“Big improvements and much needed improvements and I particularly like the proposal for the outside area to the east. I like the idea of the planting, pot plants and troughs.”
Carole Mulroney, Lib Dem councillor, for Leigh Ward, also welcomed the plan. She said: “The Cliffs is a fabulous venue.
“It’s regional. It’s incredibly important. It has been out to consultation and if I remember rightly there were 100 people consulted and only one response and that was in support, which is very rare especially in a development of this size and it has got the backing of government.
“It’s important not only for the region, but the city itself that we have a premier theatre that people want to go to on a regular basis.”
Steve Buckley, Conservative councillor for St Laurence Ward, added: “I believe this is to be welcomed.
“It provides some very positive improvements with the extension and the relandscaping which will enhance the street scene.
“The entrance foyer will be more customer-friendly and welcoming. All in all, I think these proposals will be appreciated by visitors and will also secure the reputation of the Cliffs Pavilion as an important tourist attraction.”
There are no plans to change the auditorium or back of house, this means the theatre will remain open during the work.
In July, Willmott Dixon was announced as the council’s construction partner for the proposed major upgrade.
Roughly £5.5 million of the project is being funded through round one of the Levelling Up Fund announced by Government in October 2021, with additional investment from the council and Trafalgar Entertainment, which operates the theatre.
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