Port Talbot Plaza: Cinema redevelopment plans backed
Plans to breathe new life into a derelict cinema left empty for 20 years have been backed by councillors.
The YMCA wants to run the Grade II-listed Plaza in Port Talbot as a community and business hub with a cafe, hall, gym and meeting rooms.
Councillor Dennis Keogh said people had been waiting a long time for the £6.5m project after years of failed schemes.
Builders could be on site by December, with an opening date planned for early in 2021.
Hollywood stars Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins were among the patrons of the 1930s-era picture palace.
It became a bingo hall in 1983 but reverted to cinema use in 1985 before closing in 1999.
Neath Port Talbot Council bought the building in 2009 to ensure it survived for future use.
The authority's planning committee unanimously backed the redevelopment, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Port Talbot ward councillor Mr Keogh said: "This is a day I thought would never come.
"The people of Port Talbot have waited so long - this iconic building means so much to so many people.
"We have seen so many failed schemes and so many false promises of money over the years only for them to disappear because of a change of administration and leadership, and priorities becoming different.
"But we are now here, and I really like what we are going to put there."
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Some residents had raised concerns about visitors parking on Eagle Street, but officers pointed to the availability of public car parks and public transport serving the town centre location.
The Welsh Government will also need to give its approval for changes involving a listed building.