MONMOUTHSHIRE councillors will consider leasing a grade-II listed theatre for three years in a move which could allow for a £235,000 lottery bid to be successful.
The county council’s cabinet will consider granting a three-year lease of Abergavenny’s Melville Theatre to Melville Centre for the Arts (MCA) at a meeting on Wednesday.
The MCA is submitting a £235,000 Heritage Lottery Funding bid this month to fund an upgrade of the 70-seat studio theatre which dates back to 1898.
Money would be used for ’major upgrading’ of the floor space, fabric and energy efficiency of the main building, as well as for additional parking and new site access.
If the lottery funding is secured, a community asset transfer would be made to the MCA during the three-year lease.
Land by the theatre for extra parking, and to ease access problems, could also be purchased for around £40,000 if the bid is successful.
Since March 2017, the MCA has managed many aspects of the theatre under a licence agreement from the council.
A council report says: "The future development of the Melville Centre relies on the ability to improve the site for users and provide adequate, safe access and parking, current access and egress to the site is severely restrained by the current narrow listed two-way entrance and vehicular movement is further compromised by the additional thoroughfare between the side of the main building and the fenced Greenfingers site."
The granting of a lease would mean a saving of £55,000 for the council, although it would also mean a loss of £10,000 rental income.
A council report notes the community asset transfer would allow grant funding to preserve and develop the site with no further financial obligation by the council.
Other options are for the council not to offer the lease, which would mean the theatre remains under the control of Monmouthshire council.
Alternatively, a 25-year lease could be offered.
But the three-year lease, with a community asset transfer once lottery funding is secured, is the ’preferred’ option in the council report.
"The development of [the] Melville site will safeguard the future of the building and the services that they provide," it adds.