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£35m scheme for historic Hippodrome theatre in Brighton unveiled
9:10am Tuesday 14th January 2014 in News
New £35 million plans to bring a historic theatre back into use have been unveiled.
After 18 months in planning, Alaska Development Consultants has submitted designs to relaunch the Grade II* listed Brighton Hippodrome as a cinema.
Developers said work on the wide-ranging proposals, which also include remodelling the neighbouring shopping arcade of Dukes Lane, could start next summer.
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The plans are being made despite hundreds of people calling for the venue, which has hosted performances by The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to be kept as a live performance theatre.
But developers said the plans – which they claim would create more than 200 jobs – are the “only viable and sustainable solution to safeguard the future of the building”.
Chris Moore, development manager for Alaska, said: “The plans have developed well through widespread collaboration and Alaska feels that the solution is one that all parties can be proud of.
“The design team, led by Russ Drage Architects, has worked tirelessly to create a proposal that satisfies the extensive requirements involved with a scheme centred on such a well-loved, listed property like the Hippodrome.
“The proposed development will not only safeguard the future of a fantastic old building for many generations to come, but also enhance the significant cultural and entertainment offerings of this vibrant city.”
Mr Moore said the eightscreen cinema would be created in the basement and ground floor, and would be leased to the cinema operator Vue.
Within the former theatre, there would be a removable floor inserted below the balcony.
The plans include restoring the main part of the auditorium for one of the cinema screens, with a restaurant above.
It comes despite campaigners presenting a case for the venue to be used as either a proscenium theatre, a theatrein- the-round or for circus performances, similar to the Roundhouse in London.
Among the supporters are former West End star Sheila Matthews and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama principal Gavin Henderson, who is also the former director and chief executive of Brighton Festival.
A petition launched in October received more than 1,000 signatures – just short of the 1,250 needed to trigger a debate at full council.
It will be presented to the council’s economic development and culture committee on January 23.
Comments are currently being accepted on the planning application with a decision likely to be taken in the coming months.
To comment, call 01273 292222 or email planning.applications@ brighton-hove.gov.uk.
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