A PROPERTY expert is urging the council to capitalise on the Olympics legacy and allow his team to redevelop the Weymouth Pavilion site.

Financial and property adviser Jeffrey Heintz, of London-based designers White Knight, has written a letter to all Weymouth and Portland borough councillors telling them the theatre can be saved.

He spoke out as it was revealed that the Pavilion theatre could shut as part of a cost-cutting plan.

Mr Heintz said his team can transform the beleaguered theatre into a ‘flourishing one’ under a trust and save taxpayers thousands of pounds.

Mr Heintz has enlisted the help of theatre experts Rupert Rhymes OBE, former chairman of the Theatres Trust and Peter Wilson, executive director of the Theatre Royal in Norwich.

He said: “They think the theatre has every opportunity to be successful.

“It has all the elements required. One of the things that has to be looked at is how it’s staffed and organised.”

He says he has made a ‘series of proposals’ to the council for a £160million scheme for the site.

White Knight’s plans would see flats, a hotel, restaurants and marina built at the Pavilion site.

Mr Heintz, former assistant commissioner for housing preservation and development for the city of New York, said work could start in 2013.

“One of the complaints has been ‘what has the Olympics done for us?’ It should be a big party at the site with bunting and flags along the beach saying the Olympics are happening but there is nothing.

“The economy is still struggling but we can still get things ready so that in 2013 when things are stronger we are ready to go.

“We have an opportunity to transform somewhere – I think there’s a natural conservatism that things are good enough.

“We’re not demolishing anything. If we’re not encouraging people to come and invest then money won’t come into the towns and they will die.”

White Knight is working with Barlow Henley architects on the project.

The Bristol architects have re-designed the greyhound stadium in Poole, designed a supermarket, offices and Chinese restaurant in Bristol and offices in Surrey.

Janet Stockley, WOW president and theatre supporter, said she was ‘very interested’ to hear of the plans.

She said: “My impression is the council is a little bit apprehensive because of the current climate.

“I’d like to know more about the type of theatre these developers would like to model the Pavilion on.

“It’s been a long time since Howard Holdings backed out and it’s encouraging to have another company showing an interest.

“I’m sure like-minded people would be interested to hear what they have to say. Let’s go for it.”

Councillor Peter Farrell, who has called for the theatre to be shut down or made to work, said the council has missed an opportunity.

He said: “In July 2009 a decision was made to keep the Pavilion running for 2010.

“I’m most concerned to find that two and a half years later there’s a developer who will be prepared to save the Pavilion and move forward and officers have failed to bring that to members.”

Council 'has made no decision'

COUNCILLOR Peter Chapman, finance and assets spokesman, said: “The council has made no decision on the precise future of the Pavilion peninsula site, although the direction of travel is inevitably towards some form of redevelopment.

“The council is currently working on a new Local Plan and Town Centre Plan which will include the Pavilion peninsula and this will in due course go out for public consultation.

“Whilst White Knight is free to approach and lobby councillors the reality is that the council’s hands are tied by the law which requires an open procurement process to be run ahead of any redevelopment scheme.

“White Knight has presented several unproven assumptions in their letter which will need to be tested as part of any procurement process.”

The three options

The borough council revealed on Tuesday that it was examining three options for the Pavilion.

A budget and financial strategy report for 2012/13 puts forward three options for consideration by councillors, taking into account the committee’s December decision to reduce the overall spend on the Pavilion by £60,000 compared to the previous financial year.

The first proposal looks at whether the Pavilion can achieve its necessary savings without having to alter the services it offers to the public.

The second proposal looks at the possibility of closing parts of the Pavilion building, including the theatre, and instead focusing on its role as a Tourist Information Centre and the non-accredited media centre for the Olympic sailing events in July and August.

A third option proposes to keep the theatre going by handing over the responsibility of programming and booking shows to local theatre groups.