News from the Geopark

Cultural partners working together to reopen Paignton Picture House

26 Jun 2023

Torbay Counicl are working in partnership with the Paignton Picture House Trust, the board of Torbay Culture, South Devon College, and the Agatha Christie Festival to progress a shared ambition to see the landmark Picture House reopen.

The restoration of Paignton Picture House is one of several improvement projects happening in the heart of Paignton.

The project has been made possible after we (on behalf of the consortium) made an application to the government's Cultural Development Fund (CDF), securing almost £3million. This funding, together with funding from the Future High Streets Fund, and grants from Historic England, the Architectural Heritage Fund and others is supporting the conservation, construction and fit-out works at one of Europe's oldest purpose-built cinemas.

Paignton Picture House has been a beloved landmark in Paignton since it opened in 1914, and its restoration will preserve an important part of the town's heritage.

Planning and listed building consent applications have been submitted following consultation with Historic England and our Planning department. The applications come after Architects AOC worked closely with the Picture House and the project team to develop proposals which respect the heritage of the site and meet the needs of the present day.

The Grade II listed building is currently on the national Heritage at Risk Register. The successful restoration programme will see physical works start to get underway later this year, meaning that once all works are completed Paignton Picture House will be removed from the Register.

In addition to physical changes, a detailed creative programme of work is underway which will grow sustainable cultural opportunities locally, building connections between local heritage, culture, and Paignton’s communities. The programme includes opportunities for skills development and internships, as well as new opportunities for locally-based producers.

The creative programme is being coordinated by Filament Works, supported by local culture and heritage organisations. From this month (June 2023), this first commission call outs will be advertised and will focus on opportunities for artists and communities to develop new work together, building up to a season of cultural events in the autumn of 2023 that will bid ‘farewell’ to Paignton Picture House in its current form. Information on how to apply will be available through Torbay Culture, Filament Works, and Paignton Picture House websites.

Cllr Chris Lewis, Cabinet Member for Place Services and Economic Growth for Torbay Council, said; "The restoration of Paignton Picture House is a tangible positive step in helping to regenerate Paignton town centre. This is an incredibly exciting project that really demonstrates how multiple organisations can work together to bring a significantly important building back into use for the community.”

Jacob Brandon, Chair of Torbay Culture, said; "Torbay Culture Board is pleased to be working with partners from across Torbay to put Paignton's Cultural Development Fund project at the heart of redevelopment in the town. A cultural programme launching this summer with a farewell to the Picture House before works commence, will, over the next two years, celebrate Paignton and its communities, showcasing the contribution of culture to health, wellbeing, and prosperity for our towns."

Paul Hawthorne, Chair of Paignton Picture House Trust, said; "The Trust are hugely excited that the shared ambition and vision for the Picture House to return as a vibrant community building is one step further forward with the submission of the full scheme for Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent. It represents over 18-months of focused work by the Trust and our Design Team, supported by a range of community engagement activities such as our Co-Design Group."

Charlie Courtenay, Earl of Devon, said; "I have been impressed by the collaborative, community-led approach to restoring and reopening the historic Paignton Picture House, with the support of the Cultural Development Fund. The project is a shining example of improving coastal towns through culture and heritage to the benefit of local people, businesses, and visitors."

To keep up to date, visit the Paignton Picture House website.

Torbay’s Cultural Development – Paignton Picture House is a collaboration between Torbay Council, Paignton Picture House Trust, South Devon College, Torbay Culture and the Agatha Christie Festival Ltd.