Weymouth’s iconic Pavilion is getting a new lease on life as its future is secured for the next 25 years.

Pavilion director Phil Say said ‘exciting times were ahead’ after signing a new lease securing the building’s future until 2043.

He added the team could now start planning for the future and “put to rest rumours the building is going to be flattened.”

The new lease was agreed back in March 2017 but Mr Say said it took a year a half to get from decision to signing.

Break clauses, which allowed the council to give 18 months notice to the Pavilion, were also removed from the new lease.

“A lot of shows are booked 18 months ahead - so we can now book in advance with confidence and it’s good for job security and for future investment. We’ve spent £100,000 on the internal decor to date and that investment will now last without the possibility of the plug being pulled,” Mr Say said.

The Pavilion has also be granted £250,000 to revamp the exterior by upgrading the single-glazed windows to double-glazing, replacing the roof and updating external decoration.

“The grant means we can get the necessary work done and as the business makes money we can invest it back into the building - we are doing what we can so it remains for the next generation,” Mr Say said.

Work has already begun on the new roof which will remain its “iconic” green colour.

Just five years ago the future looked bleak for the Pavilion as it was set for demolition.

However, Mr Say, took it off the council’s hands in 2013 to operate it as a not-for-profit community interest company.

“It was costing the council too much and we realised there was an opportunity there to at least give it a go. If we failed they could knock it down with a clear conscious but at least the public would know we tried.”

But Mr Say said the “honeymoon period had lasted” with ticket sales continuing to increase year on year.

“I think the success is down to imagination but also the fact that I am a businessman and my livelihood depends on it being successful. People are coming down to see shows, it’s attracting people from out of the area who need hotels and go out for dinner - everybody is benefitting from a busy theatre and it costs the tax payers nothing,” he said.

Future plans for the Pavilion are already in the pipeline with a brand new restaurant and gallery planned in the near future.

The Pavilion has 25 to 30 staff supported by 80 volunteers.

“Having that number of people committed to it is great. They are passionate and want to see it succeed.

'Show more imagination'

Pavilion director Phil Say said although he “largely supported” plans for the peninsula development in Weymouth, he felt current plans had been driven by finance and urged the council to be more imaginative.

“If it had been left to finances, the Pavilion would have been flattened – but it was not necessarily what the people wanted. We showed it’s possible to do things differently.

He said the council needed to give visitors “something to come to the area for” and more chain hotels and restaurants were not the answer.

“I would welcome a leisure-led development. People want to show off that Weymouth is a unique destination we should be proud of,” he said.

“One of our biggest challenges has always been the 200 metres we are from town. We want to strive to shorten that distance and a leisure-led development would do that.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity and we need to be imaginative.”