It was widely reported in the local media this week that one of Kilmarnock’s most iconic cultural landmarks, the Grand Hall and Palace Theatre Complex, is in desperate need of repair – to the tune of almost £8million. And this has prompted concerns from the general public.
Whilst there is some truth in the reports, it is also important to set these reports within their proper context.
This morning East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet considered an updated report on the condition of all of its operational properties across culture and community assets, wellbeing, sports and outdoor assets and learning and corporate properties.
The Palace Theatre Complex was only 1 of 307 properties which formed part of a review, which commenced earlier this year, in June. The review considered the overall performance of the buildings, inducing the condition of the buildings, condition of the components, accessibility, utilisation, energy efficiency and running costs.
The review concluded that 146 properties were deemed to be performing well; a further 146 properties were performing as expected and 15 properties were underperforming, in terms of the fabric of the building. Of these 15 properties, two require ‘major capital investment’ in order to improve – the Palace theatre and the Grand Hall.
A range of works requires to be undertaken to preserve the building and address the drainage issues which are harming the stonework and it is estimated that these costs could be in the region on £6-£8 million.
Councillor Douglas Reid expressed his concern at the findings. He said: “There has been substantial investment in the complex in recent years to preserve the stonework and maintain the roof, as well as internal refurbishments, so it’s very disappointing to learn that despite our very best efforts, this classic venue is still in need of so much attention.
“Today we were asked to note the financial implications associated with the Palace Theatre complex, and that an additional funding allocation in the region of £5 million will be incorporated into Capital Programme proposals when this is reviewed in February, with East Ayrshire Leisure Trust seeking to generate grant funding.
“In terms of the present day, patrons should know that the building is safe and operational and will continue to be so until further notice. We will be working with colleagues in the Trust to develop a plan and timescale for these works and it would be our hope that these can be conducted on a phased and managed basis, to allow us to continue to offer the same cultural programme our patrons have come to know, love and expect over the years.
“This requires our immediate attention and we will work tirelessly with colleagues in East Ayrshire Leisure Trust to find a solution. This venue is one of the best provincial theatres in Scotland, outwith the major cities and together we will do all we can to preserve it.”