Construction partner announced for Cliffs Pavilion renovation

  • Venue will remain open throughout the planned renovation
  • Upgrade will secure future of Cliffs Pavilion as one of the top ten regional theatres
  • Work set to commence in January 2024 subject to planning permission

Southend-on-Sea City Council has announced Willmott Dixon as its construction partner for the proposed major upgrade of the Cliffs Pavilion.

This follows a procurement process, with the City Council entering into a pre-construction agreement with the national construction and property services company.

Willmott Dixon will do all design development, a pre-construction health and safety plan and a construction methodology and programme including phasing. It is also intended to enter into a full contract with Wilmott Dixon subject to planning approval, an agreed cost plan and agreed works programme that enables the Cliffs Pavilion to stay open for performances throughout the works. Upgrades to the Cliffs Pavilion Theatre will help secure the long-term future of the theatre, which is owned by the council and operated by Trafalgar Theatres (for Trafalgar Entertainment) and will ensure the venue’s position as one of the top ten regional theatres in the country.

Over £8m is set to be invested into the theatre, which will see the major expansion of the restaurant, a new entrance and lobby to improve the customer experience, upgraded ventilation, a new outdoor piazza and several other improvements to the bars, toilets, lifts and other areas.

The theatre will remain open throughout the works, which are expected to take place from January 2024, with several major shows already booked in for that year including SIX The Musical, The Full Monty, I Should Be So Lucky, Pretty Woman The Musical, Diversity, Professor Brian Cox and Romesh Ranganathan.

£5.5m of the project is being funded through Round 1 of the Levelling Up Fund announced by Government on 27 October 2021, with additional investment from the City Council and Trafalgar Entertainment.

Cllr Derek Jarvis, cabinet member for arts, culture, heritage and leisure, said: “The Cliffs Pavilion Theatre is one of Southend’s key venues for culture, arts and events and adds so much to our reputation as a cultural destination and brings millions of pounds into the local economy. This work will ensure that we reinforce its position as one of the top ten regional theatres in the country.

“The proposed expansion and upgrade of the theatre will also help us to secure the future success of the Cliffs Pavilion, in the hopes of benefiting from larger touring shows and bringing larger audiences to Southend whilst also benefitting our local economy.”

The Cliffs Pavilion and The Palace Theatre are both council-owned assets and more than 500,000 people enjoy shows at the venues, as part of the current contract with Trafalgar Theatres, which runs until 2036. The last major renovation to the Cliffs Pavilion was in 1992 when the balcony was installed.