Conwy Civic Hall

A landmark building situated in a World Heritage Site, with good facilities, this is Conwy’s only theatre. It is currently closed, and a preferred bidder has been appointed for redevelopment.

Conwy Civic Hall streetscape, showing it situated at a crossroads.
Castle Street, Conwy, LL32 8AY
Risk Rating
6 (Community Value: 2, Star Rating: 1 Risk Factor: 3)
Local Group
Conwy Civic Hall Amateur Players Society
Date of Construction
Grade II


A landmark building with good facilities, this is Conwy’s only theatre. Situated by the quay in the centre of historic Conwy, the original Civic Hall was designed in a Tudor Gothic style. Following a fire in 1966, the hall was rebuilt in sheet concrete and the remains of the buttressed foyer and tower were incorporated. A 240-seat studio theatre was included in the reconstruction.

Why is this theatre at risk?

Conwy Civic Hall has been on the Theatres at Risk Register since 2011, although it was temporarily removed from 2012 to 2013 when its future was believed secure.

Conwy County Borough Council announced plans to close the venue in 2011. Local user groups formed a community interest company to take over the management of the venue but its proposal, submitted in late 2013, was rejected by the council, describing it as ‘not viable’ and suggesting that implementing it would ‘present an unacceptable risk’. The venue closed in March 2014 and has faced an uncertain future since.

Since this time the council has put the building out for tender for commercial bids on a number of occasions. The first of these was in 2016. Theatres Trust supported Last Bastion, a local community group, in its initial expression of interest, however, the bid was not taken forward. The council received no other submissions.

In April 2017 the property was placed on the open market again. Interest was received from Conwy Feast, an organisation operating from the ground floor of the building, which runs an annual celebration of food, music and arts in Conwy. Last Bastion decided not to bid, but instead to support the bid by Conwy Feast. This was subsequently rejected by the council. The council also rejected an offer on the building from pub chain Wetherspoon.

Despite the lack of appetite to develop the difficult site – the building is listed and with limited footprint and is also within a World Heritage Site – the council has remained resolute in its decision to sell the Civic Hall for commercial redevelopment, although it has been clear that the building should retain some element of community use.

In June 2019, the building was put on the market again, with a guide price of £500,000. A shortlist of three preferred bidders was drawn up from the submissions received.

In September 2020, development company Nautical Point Ltd was selected by council cabinet members to take its scheme forward. It is understood that the sale of the building is dependent on planning permission being granted.

Nautical Point’s proposal was due to go to public consultation in early 2021, however, delays meant that the scheme wasn’t released for public consultation until December 2022. The developer has noted extensive discussions with Cadw during this time. Proposals are for a mixed-use scheme comprising a food hall, restaurant and apart-hotel. There was no mention of theatre or community space and it appeared that any hope of live performance as part of the mixed-use scheme has been lost. We made representations objecting to the loss of theatre / live performance provision and urging the developer to consider how options for retention of live performance could be incorporated.

In January 2024 applications for planning permission and listed building consent for redevelopment of Civic Hall were submitted. This includes “opportunity for community hall and performance space use” on the ground floor. While this is a welcome progression on pre-application proposals, the submitted plans show no specific infrastructure to facilitate this.

Theatre potential

Since the Civic Hall closed in 2014, the residents of Conwy have been without a community location to meet, celebrate, or present home-grown entertainment or small music and touring shows, all of which were valuable activities before its closure. While the council has invested in the Conwy Community Centre, a new building to replace the community facility lost from the closure of the Civic Hall, this does not have space big enough for local amateur groups to perform. There is an option for the main room within the centre to be hired for rehearsal use although local groups still maintain that it is too small even for this.  The centre does include an amphitheatre on its grounds that the council is keen to see programmed for use throughout the summer months but this does not cover the loss of live performance space within the town for the majority of the year.  Local theatre groups that had been operating from the Civic Hall have subsequently had to relocate elsewhere. This includes Conway Civic Hall Amateur Players Society (CHAPS) which occupied the Civic Hall as its main venue for many years before its closure.

CHAPS has since held performances in a variety of venues in neighbouring towns, however, the lack of a live performance venue in Conwy is a source of concern and travel distance, at times poses an issue to audiences. There remains significant local interest in saving the building as a resource for the community / ensuring that any redevelopment offers adequate reprovision on the site.

Current situation

Conwy County Borough Council remains committed to the disposal of the Civic Hall for redevelopment. It has always been clear that it would welcome uses such as residential, retail and hotel on the site, although previously it has also stated a requirement for any new proposal to retain some community facility.

The council published its Cultural Strategy 2021-26, and while there is a brief mention of existing theatres in nearby Llandudno and Colwyn Bay and talk of the potential to ‘expand programming to work with an even broader range of organisations, supporting smaller independent venues and initiatives’, there is no mention of the Civic Hall or of revitalising amateur performance provision in Conwy.

Theatres Trust was not directly approached on Nautical Point’s public consultation in December 2022 but did provide feedback. We have since attended a second public consultation event at the venue in May 2023.

The scheme proposes substantial redevelopment of the site, building upwards from the existing building with an aesthetic, scale and massing that we consider to be inappropriate within the setting of the World Heritage Site and out of keeping with the local vernacular. The site is undoubtedly challenging to redevelop and we would suggest that a less commercial scheme, with greater benefit for the wider community and local businesses, would provide a more sensitive and architecturally suitable outcome. The proposals presented at the consultation are available here.

It is believed that public feedback from the consultation corresponds with Theatres Trust’s opinion that community use should be included within the plans. Furthermore, we had understood that the developer would look at options for the inclusion of community / live performance space before submitting for planning. According to the timescales suggested at the consultation, a full planning application was to be submitted the end of June 2023. The date has been further delayed; Nautical Point submitting an application in January 2024. We will be submitting comments on these applications during February 2024.

Theatres Trust’s preferred outcome is for the Civic Hall to be retained, restored and reopened as a community facility with live performance. We also believe that this is the most environmentally sustainable solution for the site. However, this is looking increasingly unlikely.

We have advised local councillors, the council team managing the bid process and Nautical Point  of our position. However, should the sale of the Civic Hall complete, we will look to work with both local groups and the council to ensure that there is a new and adequate replacement for the lost theatre.

 Update February 2024

We have submitted an objection to proposals to redevelop Civic Hall as a food hall and short stay accommodation, urging the applicant to provide additional detail and revised plans for community and performance use. Read our full response.

Main photo Conwy Civic Hall, Purcell