Council wins major All-Wales award for successful Plaza re-development project

Neath Port Talbot Council’s successful conversion of the Grade II listed Plaza Cinema building into a community hub, business centre and gym run by the YMCA has won a top award.

The project to provide a new Port Talbot town centre role for the spectacular art-deco former cinema has won Project of the Year in the annual CLAW (Consortium of Local Authorities in Wales) Awards.

The CLAW Awards are open to all councils in Wales and are designed to reward excellence in the professional property management field.

First opened in 1940 with the movie Babes In Arms, starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, the Plaza finally closed its ornate doors to the public in 1999.

It lay derelict for many years before the building, which famously helped inspire the stellar careers of Port Talbot acting stars Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Michael Sheen, became the focus for a council project to bring it back to life. 

The council, the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government funded the scheme which involved contractors Bam Construction, GWP Architecture, Hydrock, Asbri Planning and concrete specialists Vale CRW. 

The feasibility work, design and construction was managed by NPT Council’s Architecture and Project Management team. The award was presented by Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Social Partnership Hannah Blythyn MS to Neath Port Talbot Council Principal Project Manager Nicholas Richards on behalf of the council at the Senedd on Monday, December 4th  2023.

04.12.23 – Construction Excellence in Wales 2023 Award Winners Reception, The Senedd, Cardiff

In granting it the Project of the Year Award, the judges gave the Plaza re-development this glowing accolade “We loved the sensitive restoration of this beautiful listed building, and were particularly impressed with the highly collaborative approach to design and build that delivered the scheme so successfully. The thoughtful, well-coordinated modern extension tucked in behind the listed frontage worked tremendously well, leaning into its colourful aesthetic of exposed services and original brickwork without ever competing with the heritage and history of the old cinema. Delivering all of this on such a tight site is impressive, and to top it off, the building’s potential for positive impact on the community is evident. Very well done to Neath Port Talbot Council and the design and build team.

Cllr Jeremy Hurley, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Economic Growth, said: “I am delighted the efforts of this council and its partners in constructing quality, sustainable, buildings has been recognised and I would like to thank all involved in bringing the Plaza building back to life.” 

Some of the highlights of the work involved restoring original feature hardwood doors and replication of shopfront hardwood window frames. 

The project team also restored damaged and corroded Crittall windows (synonymous with art-deco and modernism), repaired damaged Faience tiling and Terrazzo flooring and repaired a reconstituted stone plinth. Specialists also manufactured the building’s thick, large, curved, glazed shopfront units and metal workers replicated a steel canopy and the iconic ‘PLAZA’ sign.