CINEMA CHAIN ‘VUE ENTERTAINMENT’ WROTE TO CAMPAIGN GROUPS ‘SAVE OUR HIPPODROME’ AND ‘OUR BRIGHTON HIPPODROME’ TO CONFIRM THAT IT WAS PULLING OUT OF PLANS TO BUILD AN 8 SCREEN CINEMA AT THE HIPPODROME.
THIS IS NOT A WINNER FOR THE SAVE OUR HIPPODROME GROUP IT IS MORE LIKELY TO MEAN THAT THERE ARE CONCERNS ABOUT THE VIABILITY OF THE CINEMA SCHEME.
IT WOULD ONLY BE A VICTORY FOR THE SAVE OUR HIPPODROME GROUP IF THEY CAN FIND THE FUNDING TO REPAIR THE BUILDING AND RUN IT AS A THEATRE. IT HAS BEEN EMPTY SINCE 2007 AND WILL SOON BE BEYOND REPAIR. The Theatres Trust placed the Hippodrome on its list of venues in danger in 2010. The District Valuer’s report states: ‘the building as a theatre would not be commercially viable, making an annual loss of £250,000’.
The Council are seeking urgent clarification from Kuig Property Investments, who they understand to be the owners, with Helix Property Investments, of the site. The £35m plan to convert the 1890s Grade II listed Hippodrome Theatre in Middle Street into an eight screen cinema has been put in doubt after the cinema operator Vue pulled out.
THE HIPPODROME IS THE ONLY THEATRE LEFT IN BRIGHTON APART FROM THE SMALLER THEATRE ROYAL. THE HIPPODROME ALSO BOASTS A MAGNIFICENT FRANK MATCHAM AUDITORIUM.
The Hippodrome had been given the highest rating for a theatre at risk by the Theatres Trust. The auditorium is intact. The big question is who would fund the restoration and the running costs of the Hippodrome as a theatre?
THE BRIGHTON SOCIETY WAS ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT THE NEW BUILDINGS PROPOSED FOR SHIP STREET RUINING A BEAUTIFUL SET PIECE OF STREETSCAPE? SHIP STREET CONSISTS OF BUILDINGS OF DIFFERENT DESIGNS WHICH ARE UNIFIED BY SCALE AND MATERIALS. THEY ARE ‘ALL OF A PIECE’ CREATING BEAUTIFUL TOWNSCAPE.
The interior of the Hippodrome’s richly decorated balcony walls would have lost their existing ‘overlooking’ relationship with the main space if the cinema scheme had gone ahead, and would have visually appeared as a low perimeter bulkhead, semi-concealed behind tables and chairs and subject to potential damage. This proposal could completely disguise the character of the original balconies and reduce them to insignificant visual elements within the whole space. The Brighton Society could not have supported this part of the proposal.
Despite the £18million plan to bring the building back into use as an eight-screen cinema The Theatres Trust fears the venue could disappear for ever if urgent works are not carried out. The Trust places it high on its ‘At Risk’ register. Council officers told the meeting that there was no viable alternative for the building as they had not rceived a formal business plan from Our Brighton Hippodrome following a meeting in March, which campaigners dispute. THE HIPPODROME’S POOR CONDITION STEMMED FROM A LACK OF MAINTENANCE OVER A NUMBER OF YEARS.
The Brighton Society is not sure about the proposals for re-furbishing Hippodrome House, what uses will it be put to, and to what extent will historical interior features will be retained? The Brighton Society has no objection to the proposals for the Middle Street elevation of the Hippodrome.