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Willmott Dixon Chosen To Revamp Southend Landmark

Willmott Dixon’s extensive track-record for breathing new life into popular cultural attractions has seen it chosen by Southend Council as its construction partner for a proposed major upgrade of the Cliffs Pavilion.

As part of a pre-construction agreement with the council, Willmott Dixon will carry out design development and a pre-construction health and safety plan as well as a construction methodology and programme planning including phasing. The company will then agree a full contract subject to planning approval, an agreed cost plan and works programme that enables the Cliffs Pavilion to stay open for performances throughout the work.

This work at Cliffs Pavilion Theatre will help secure its long-term future as one of the top ten regional theatres in the country. It is owned by the council and operated by Trafalgar Theatres (for Trafalgar Entertainment).

Over £8m is set to be invested into the theatre to fund a 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 project, which is expected to start in January 2024, with £5.5m of the project 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.

A revised planning application will be submitted in July, when a resident event will take place and artists impressions will be available.

Councillor 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.”

This is the latest in a series of major projects for Willmott Dixon to improve the cultural and heritage offering of major towns and cities. Others include The Globe in Stockton, the east wing of Alexandra Palace, The Box in Plymouth, Darlington Railway museum and Bristol Beacon. It is currently on site at Walthamstow transforming the EMD Cinema into an entertainment venue run by Soho Theatre.


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