The Brighton Hippodrome has long been a part of our city’s rich cultural heritage.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go inside and see for myself just how beautiful the original Frank Matcham interior is. It is a truly wonderful building, and I would love for it to be returned to its former glory as a theatre.
Early on, I met with the Theatre Trust, and with local members of Equity, both of whom are passionate that the Hippodrome should restored as a theatre.
I also facilitated a meeting for them with English Heritage, so they could make their case directly to them.
With the formation of Our Brighton Hippodrome (OBH), and the drawing up of a new Business Plan, I was hopeful that resources could be found to enable their vision to be realised.
I was therefore very disappointed that the District Valuer has apparently judged that the OBH plan was not viable.
I have spoken with the Council and understand that, in the light of the District Valuer judgement, and given that English Heritage has maintained its position that what they call the “optimum viable use” for the building is the original planning application on the table, the Council has given the go-ahead for it to proceed.
I am still trying to find out why the application for the Hippodrome to be nominated as an Asset of Community Value was rejected, since that would have seemed to have been a way to enable OBH to continue their campaign, and if necessary, to have adapted their Business Plan. I am very surprised at how fast the decisions have been made, which has meant that OBH has not had that opportunity.
I am not a member of the Council, so I have no direct say in the decision. However, I am still asking questions about the next steps, and whether any options remain that would mean that the Hippodrome could return to its use as a theatre – but also conscious of the fact that a timely solution needs to be found if the building is to be saved, in any form, for future generations to enjoy.