COUNCILLORS have agreed to invest an extra £600,000 on building a 70-seat cinema at Pontardawe Arts Centre.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s cabinet voted in favour of investing more than double the previously estimated cost into the project during a meeting on Wednesday June 30.

Labour councillor Sandra Miller said: “I know it’s more costly, however, what we’re going to get out of it is going to be a project that is pivotal to the area and future valley activity.

“Having frequented the arts centre previously, it was never suitable for disabled people etc so we’re seeing some real improvements here and hopefully it will go from strength to strength.”

Bristol-based architects Childs Sulzmann were appointed to develop the project in September 2020 and have requested more than double the previous estimate to complete the works, which will include ground flood refurbishments.

The council agreed to invest £500,000 in the development in November 2019 but it now requires a further £600,000. The previously agreed cost of the new cinema was based on estimates by consultants employed by the Arts Council for Wales, who will invest £3000,000 into the project.

According to a report by Andrew Thomas, the council’s director of education, leisure and lifelong learning, the latest budget estimated cost for the new cinema is £1,317,076, with an extra £100,000 contingency figure.

“The cost is far in excess of what we thought the original budget would be,” said Mr Thomas.

“It isn’t just to deliver the cinema there is some remodelling work of the arts centre involved in this scheme to make the cinema better from a customer flow point of view. It’s just a much more complicated technical project than first thought.”

He added that council officers did not think the original budget estimate would be enough to deliver the project “but the Arts Council were insistent that if they were going to put their capital funding in then they wanted to do it their way and that’s what had to happen”.

“Our technical boys always thought that the budget cost was never enough but we did have to tow the line from the Arts Council if we were to secure their funding.”

Paul Dorrell, the council’s project director, said the first study was carried out by De Matos Ryan, who carried out “a basic feasibility study” on behalf of the Arts Council for Wales. He said the study left out a lot of factors such as a breakout space, ancillary toilets, work to the external plantyard and demolition of existing services.