A LARGE slice of Swansea’s architectural history is to be saved with a multi-million pound restoration project.
Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said the authority has secured a grant of just under £5 million to bring the Palace Theatre back from the brink.
It is understood the council will also contribute to the restoration, which would take two to three years.
Cllr Stewart said the end result would be a mix of retail and offices at the grade two-listed building, plus a new community space.
More details about the High Street project are due to be discussed by Swansea’s cabinet next week.
The privately-owned Palace Theatre has been falling into disrepair for many years.
“We are in the process of finally acquiring the building,” said Cllr Stewart.
Last Sunday evening its very existence looked in jeopardy when firefighters tackled fires which had been started inside.
Fortunately, the damage to the derelict structure was minor. South Wales Police is investigating.
People living or working nearby the Palace Theatre, which opened in 1888, seemed amazed when told of the Labour administration’s plans.
Theatre and drama student Georgia Whitethorn, whose car was parked a stone’s throw away, was excited.
“I’m training to be in the creative industries, and I am really passionate about theatres,” said the 22-year-old, of Fforestfach.
She said anything to avoid the Palace Theatre disappearing would be welcome.
“Even if they just turn into something,” she said.
Swansea man Raj Das said the retail, office and community use sounded better than private flats.
“If it’s good for the community, that’s good,” he said.
Nearby resident Lois Jeater said she would be thrilled if look-a-likes of Charlie Chaplin, Ken Dodd, and Laurel and Hardy – some of the stellar names who appeared at the Palace Theatre – could feature in the building after the restoration.
Another resident, who asked not to be named, said specialist shops would be a good idea.
Another person living close by, who also asked not to be named, had a different take.
“Knock it down,” he said. “It’ll cost £5 million to do something silly. We’ve got to look to the future, not backwards.”