The £8 million refurbishment of the Cliffs Pavilion Theatre in Southend has gone back out to tender after concern over costs.

A pre-construction agreement between Southend City Council and Willmott Dixon was signed last year with the intention it would lead to a full £5.8 million contract subject to planning consent, an agreed cost plan and agreed works programme.

Planning consent was approved last October but now the council has now said costs are too high and is re-tendering the contract.

Work includes the substantial expansion of the restaurant, a new entrance and lobby, upgraded ventilation, a new outdoor piazza and several other improvements to the bars, toilets, lifts and other areas. The theatre will remain open throughout.

Cllr Derek Jarvis, cabinet member arts, culture, heritage, and leisure, said: “We must ensure this important project is delivered on budget. We have been assessing options and worked with our independent project cost consultant who believe that the project is deliverable within the allocated amount.

“We have therefore quickly got on with a new open tender, which if successful will delay the start of construction, which we currently estimate would be by up to four months.

“The Cliffs Pavilion Theatre is one of Southend’s key venues for culture, arts and events and this work will ensure that we reinforce its position as one of the top ten regional theatres in the country.

“The expansion and upgrade 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 the city whilst also benefitting our local economy.”

The work is being funded by £5.5m from the Levelling Up Fund with additional investment from the city council and Trafalgar Entertainment.

Image: Cliffs Pavilion by Kim Fyson, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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