Controversial Brighton Hippodrome cinema plans get English Heritage backing

Controversial Brighton Hippodrome cinema plans get English Heritage backing

Controversial Brighton Hippodrome cinema plans get English Heritage backing

First published in News

A campaign to keep live performance at a historic theatre has suffered a blow after a conservation body backed plans to convert it into a cinema.

English Heritage has officially supported plans to convert Brighton’s Hippodrome into a cinema, describing the redevelopment as the “final opportunity” to save the theatre.

Campaign organiser David Fisher said he disagreed with the English Heritage assessment and that a business plan showing the viability of a revived live performance venue would be submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council in the very near future.

A decision on the future of the 19th century theatre in Middle Street is set to be made at the local authority’s planning committee next month.

Ahead of that meeting English Heritage has written to the council to say that developers Alaska have shown that theatre use is “unlikely to be feasible” at the venue in the “medium term”. The body also said that developers had shown that converting the cinema back to a theatre at a later date would be “achievable” although “not without cost”.

Samantha Johnson, English Heritage’s inspector of historic buildings and area, writes: “The proposals would cause harm to the significance of the building. However, they are likely to represent a final opportunity to save the Hippodrome and would conserve the aesthetic values associated with [architect Frank] Matcham’s phase of works.”

Mr Fisher said other respected bodies, such as The Theatres Trust, did not agree that its existing interior was unsalvageable. His campaign has gathered almost 10,000 signatures with supporters including leading playwrights Sir Alan Ayckbourn and Sir Arnold Wesker.

He said work was ongoing to draw up a detailed business plan showing that it was viable to retain the listed building as a live venue and that he hoped to work with the developers to make this happen.

He added: “I am not convinced that a cinema will work, it will simply take customers off the Odeon.”

Chris Moore, development manager for Alaska, said: “English Heritage has forensically examined our detailed planning application and recognised the extensive steps we have taken to protect this building and the care which has gone into every detail.

“We are grateful to them for this understanding and pragmatic approach, which will reassure the Brighton public, who may have been misinformed about our approach, and will allow them to support this wonderful restoration project.”

Comments (14)

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11:52am Wed 9 Apr 14

billy goat-gruff says...

There's a Brighton cinema lying empty and derelict - the Astoria - so why turn the Hippodrome into a cinema when it's already kitted out as a theatre/music space?
There's a Brighton cinema lying empty and derelict - the Astoria - so why turn the Hippodrome into a cinema when it's already kitted out as a theatre/music space? billy goat-gruff
  • Score: -4

4:34pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Bhespian says...

Do not be deceived by this cinema plan. It is NOT a restoration - it is a rebuild! Once complete this wonderful space can never and will never be return to its live theatre status. A 'Live' theatre will draw tourists to our unique city and 'Live theatre creates many, many more jobs than a cinema and restaurant. Bless them, English Heritage are not looking at it from this perspective. Please do not let them take this unique space away from our very special city! This is 'Our Brighton Hippodrome' after all.
Do not be deceived by this cinema plan. It is NOT a restoration - it is a rebuild! Once complete this wonderful space can never and will never be return to its live theatre status. A 'Live' theatre will draw tourists to our unique city and 'Live theatre creates many, many more jobs than a cinema and restaurant. Bless them, English Heritage are not looking at it from this perspective. Please do not let them take this unique space away from our very special city! This is 'Our Brighton Hippodrome' after all. Bhespian
  • Score: -5

5:04pm Wed 9 Apr 14

jo_brown says...

If you look at the proposals on the website www.brightonhippodro
me.co.uk and check the planning application- it is clear that this scheme has been carefully designed to enable reversal to a theatre if ever this were viable. I don't understand why people would prefer the building to rot away (like the West Pier) by opposing this application when Brighton could have a restored Hippodrome for the future. It just doesn't make sense! Fair enough if those in opposition were to bring an alternative, do-able proposition (and the required money of course) to the table, but to oppose just for the sake of it with no alternative on offer seems ridiculous to me. Lets get behind this restoration (and regeneration of the surrounding area to boot, which is absolutely awful and rundown at present) - it is just common sense.
If you look at the proposals on the website www.brightonhippodro me.co.uk and check the planning application- it is clear that this scheme has been carefully designed to enable reversal to a theatre if ever this were viable. I don't understand why people would prefer the building to rot away (like the West Pier) by opposing this application when Brighton could have a restored Hippodrome for the future. It just doesn't make sense! Fair enough if those in opposition were to bring an alternative, do-able proposition (and the required money of course) to the table, but to oppose just for the sake of it with no alternative on offer seems ridiculous to me. Lets get behind this restoration (and regeneration of the surrounding area to boot, which is absolutely awful and rundown at present) - it is just common sense. jo_brown
  • Score: 12

5:09pm Wed 9 Apr 14

John Fallon says...

The pro-theatre lobby have had decades to put together a feasible and costed plan to turn what was once an ice rink and was lately a bingo hall into a theatre. They haven't done it. The reason is that lots of people in B&H go to London to see a big show. They are not going to wait for one to come here. If they want to see a West End try out, they'll go to Chicester or, when one's on, at the Theatre Royal. Realistically, the only offer on the table is a cinema and restaurants with, hopefully, a reasonable performance space under the magnificent dome. The argument's over. Let the developers get on with it.
The pro-theatre lobby have had decades to put together a feasible and costed plan to turn what was once an ice rink and was lately a bingo hall into a theatre. They haven't done it. The reason is that lots of people in B&H go to London to see a big show. They are not going to wait for one to come here. If they want to see a West End try out, they'll go to Chicester or, when one's on, at the Theatre Royal. Realistically, the only offer on the table is a cinema and restaurants with, hopefully, a reasonable performance space under the magnificent dome. The argument's over. Let the developers get on with it. John Fallon
  • Score: 11

5:14pm Wed 9 Apr 14

jo_brown says...

billy goat-gruff wrote:
There's a Brighton cinema lying empty and derelict - the Astoria - so why turn the Hippodrome into a cinema when it's already kitted out as a theatre/music space?
Its not kitted out - it was used as a bingo hall for years then left to rot. No one has bothered with it until now when it's almost too late.
[quote][p][bold]billy goat-gruff[/bold] wrote: There's a Brighton cinema lying empty and derelict - the Astoria - so why turn the Hippodrome into a cinema when it's already kitted out as a theatre/music space?[/p][/quote]Its not kitted out - it was used as a bingo hall for years then left to rot. No one has bothered with it until now when it's almost too late. jo_brown
  • Score: 17

10:21pm Wed 9 Apr 14

britey says...

Brighton Hippodrome is said to be one of Frank Matcham’s finest designs and we should be doing everything we can to preserve its scale and grandness, not slicing it in half, painting it magnolia and sticking a glass box on it. Nobody wants to let it rot but we should doing everything we can to preserve rather than convert and rebuild.
Brighton Hippodrome is said to be one of Frank Matcham’s finest designs and we should be doing everything we can to preserve its scale and grandness, not slicing it in half, painting it magnolia and sticking a glass box on it. Nobody wants to let it rot but we should doing everything we can to preserve rather than convert and rebuild. britey
  • Score: -6

10:27pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Simon Jenner says...

1. The old ice rink exterior in itself isn't really worth saving and it's not in imminent danger; that's mere scare. Its value is as an envelope or shell.
2. The Macham interior is - crucially, as it is - worth saving.
3. Get rid of Macham's functionality and much of the interior and you throw the egg away and fry the shell.
4. What fool said you can go to Chichester (oh yes?a Minerva snip at £35 will really appeal to under 25s). Or troop up to London and down again at midnight as oppsoed to a Hippodrome on our doorstep. Are we worth that little? Brighton was a hive of such large-scaled shows up to 1969.
5. The Council seem happy with the Odeon failing to this Alaska monster. They'd recoup the Odeon land to sell off, and the Hippodrome is no threat to their limited revenue potential at the Dome. Win-win with blinkers and no long-term growth. What do we gain? A loss of one theatre, the loss of a cinema, and a corporate chain replicating what we already have.
6. The failure of a previous campaign - due to lack of knowing how to answer canny operators - is not dishonourable. It bears no relation save as a quietly honourable predecessor to this one.
7. Dame Penelope Keith has just signed up. The whole of the theatre world understands the hippodrome's potential. If Brighton has pretensions to culture, it's time we proved it.
1. The old ice rink exterior in itself isn't really worth saving and it's not in imminent danger; that's mere scare. Its value is as an envelope or shell. 2. The Macham interior is - crucially, as it is - worth saving. 3. Get rid of Macham's functionality and much of the interior and you throw the egg away and fry the shell. 4. What fool said you can go to Chichester (oh yes?a Minerva snip at £35 will really appeal to under 25s). Or troop up to London and down again at midnight as oppsoed to a Hippodrome on our doorstep. Are we worth that little? Brighton was a hive of such large-scaled shows up to 1969. 5. The Council seem happy with the Odeon failing to this Alaska monster. They'd recoup the Odeon land to sell off, and the Hippodrome is no threat to their limited revenue potential at the Dome. Win-win with blinkers and no long-term growth. What do we gain? A loss of one theatre, the loss of a cinema, and a corporate chain replicating what we already have. 6. The failure of a previous campaign - due to lack of knowing how to answer canny operators - is not dishonourable. It bears no relation save as a quietly honourable predecessor to this one. 7. Dame Penelope Keith has just signed up. The whole of the theatre world understands the hippodrome's potential. If Brighton has pretensions to culture, it's time we proved it. Simon Jenner
  • Score: -5

10:35pm Wed 9 Apr 14

kind manatee says...

Brighton needs a large performing arts centre and it has one in the shape of a revived Brighton Hippodrome. We don't need more large restaurants and we certainly don't need another cinema ! We already have Cineworld (Marina) Brighton and the Odeon and the Duke of Yorks. Probably more cinemas are planned for Hove Place and the King Alfred. A building like the Hippodrome is designed for live performances and if this cinema proposal goes ahead the alteration will be completely irreversible. A live theatre space is commercially viable. Think opera, ballet, trade fairs, conferences, musicals, plays, dance competitions, the list is endless !
Brighton needs a large performing arts centre and it has one in the shape of a revived Brighton Hippodrome. We don't need more large restaurants and we certainly don't need another cinema ! We already have Cineworld (Marina) Brighton and the Odeon and the Duke of Yorks. Probably more cinemas are planned for Hove Place and the King Alfred. A building like the Hippodrome is designed for live performances and if this cinema proposal goes ahead the alteration will be completely irreversible. A live theatre space is commercially viable. Think opera, ballet, trade fairs, conferences, musicals, plays, dance competitions, the list is endless ! kind manatee
  • Score: -5

10:36pm Wed 9 Apr 14

jo_brown says...

britey wrote:
Brighton Hippodrome is said to be one of Frank Matcham’s finest designs and we should be doing everything we can to preserve its scale and grandness, not slicing it in half, painting it magnolia and sticking a glass box on it. Nobody wants to let it rot but we should doing everything we can to preserve rather than convert and rebuild.
Magnolia? Glass box? You clearly have not looked at the very detailed planning application and website. This will SAVE the building for the future!
[quote][p][bold]britey[/bold] wrote: Brighton Hippodrome is said to be one of Frank Matcham’s finest designs and we should be doing everything we can to preserve its scale and grandness, not slicing it in half, painting it magnolia and sticking a glass box on it. Nobody wants to let it rot but we should doing everything we can to preserve rather than convert and rebuild.[/p][/quote]Magnolia? Glass box? You clearly have not looked at the very detailed planning application and website. This will SAVE the building for the future! jo_brown
  • Score: 6

11:18pm Wed 9 Apr 14

britey says...

jo_brown wrote:
britey wrote:
Brighton Hippodrome is said to be one of Frank Matcham’s finest designs and we should be doing everything we can to preserve its scale and grandness, not slicing it in half, painting it magnolia and sticking a glass box on it. Nobody wants to let it rot but we should doing everything we can to preserve rather than convert and rebuild.
Magnolia? Glass box? You clearly have not looked at the very detailed planning application and website. This will SAVE the building for the future!
I notice you don't refute the worst of it - slicing the building in half. White or magnolia, glass or perspex makes very little difference. These plans only SAVE parts of the building - the best features will be lost.
[quote][p][bold]jo_brown[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]britey[/bold] wrote: Brighton Hippodrome is said to be one of Frank Matcham’s finest designs and we should be doing everything we can to preserve its scale and grandness, not slicing it in half, painting it magnolia and sticking a glass box on it. Nobody wants to let it rot but we should doing everything we can to preserve rather than convert and rebuild.[/p][/quote]Magnolia? Glass box? You clearly have not looked at the very detailed planning application and website. This will SAVE the building for the future![/p][/quote]I notice you don't refute the worst of it - slicing the building in half. White or magnolia, glass or perspex makes very little difference. These plans only SAVE parts of the building - the best features will be lost. britey
  • Score: -6

11:18pm Wed 9 Apr 14

britey says...

jo_brown wrote:
britey wrote:
Brighton Hippodrome is said to be one of Frank Matcham’s finest designs and we should be doing everything we can to preserve its scale and grandness, not slicing it in half, painting it magnolia and sticking a glass box on it. Nobody wants to let it rot but we should doing everything we can to preserve rather than convert and rebuild.
Magnolia? Glass box? You clearly have not looked at the very detailed planning application and website. This will SAVE the building for the future!
I notice you don't refute the worst of it - slicing the building in half. White or magnolia, glass or perspex makes very little difference. These plans only SAVE parts of the building - the best features will be lost.
[quote][p][bold]jo_brown[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]britey[/bold] wrote: Brighton Hippodrome is said to be one of Frank Matcham’s finest designs and we should be doing everything we can to preserve its scale and grandness, not slicing it in half, painting it magnolia and sticking a glass box on it. Nobody wants to let it rot but we should doing everything we can to preserve rather than convert and rebuild.[/p][/quote]Magnolia? Glass box? You clearly have not looked at the very detailed planning application and website. This will SAVE the building for the future![/p][/quote]I notice you don't refute the worst of it - slicing the building in half. White or magnolia, glass or perspex makes very little difference. These plans only SAVE parts of the building - the best features will be lost. britey
  • Score: -7

11:50pm Wed 9 Apr 14

jo_brown says...

Not at all, I refute all! - the restoration has been designed to be reversible for theatre use. So in the meantime we get a restored Hippodrome, regenerated Middle Street, some top class cinema provision and new eateries/bars...,It'
s a win win for Brighton. Or.. The alternative is?
Not at all, I refute all! - the restoration has been designed to be reversible for theatre use. So in the meantime we get a restored Hippodrome, regenerated Middle Street, some top class cinema provision and new eateries/bars...,It' s a win win for Brighton. Or.. The alternative is? jo_brown
  • Score: 7

12:06am Thu 10 Apr 14

britey says...

jo_brown wrote:
Not at all, I refute all! - the restoration has been designed to be reversible for theatre use. So in the meantime we get a restored Hippodrome, regenerated Middle Street, some top class cinema provision and new eateries/bars...,It'

s a win win for Brighton. Or.. The alternative is?
Let's cut out the middle stage and go straight to the restoration. Why argue that the proposal is reversible if you don't believe a live venue is viable. And what will have happened to the stage, the fly-towers, the stalls and the orchestra pit. The alternative is a restored live venue, unique to Brighton. Ballet, opera, large scale theatre, musicals, sporting events, trade shows, independent screenings..... a much richer offering to residents of Brighton and beyond.
[quote][p][bold]jo_brown[/bold] wrote: Not at all, I refute all! - the restoration has been designed to be reversible for theatre use. So in the meantime we get a restored Hippodrome, regenerated Middle Street, some top class cinema provision and new eateries/bars...,It' s a win win for Brighton. Or.. The alternative is?[/p][/quote]Let's cut out the middle stage and go straight to the restoration. Why argue that the proposal is reversible if you don't believe a live venue is viable. And what will have happened to the stage, the fly-towers, the stalls and the orchestra pit. The alternative is a restored live venue, unique to Brighton. Ballet, opera, large scale theatre, musicals, sporting events, trade shows, independent screenings..... a much richer offering to residents of Brighton and beyond. britey
  • Score: -6

11:05am Thu 10 Apr 14

jo_brown says...

I bet previous writer campaigned to "Save the West Pier" as well and look what's happened there! Sorry disagree completely. Would rather have a beautiful restored Hippodrome than a rotting relic which no one can even enter! See www.brightonhippodro
me.co.uk for full details of how the proposals are designed to allow for reversibility to a theatre. The scheme will restore and secure the Hippodrome for the future.
I bet previous writer campaigned to "Save the West Pier" as well and look what's happened there! Sorry disagree completely. Would rather have a beautiful restored Hippodrome than a rotting relic which no one can even enter! See www.brightonhippodro me.co.uk for full details of how the proposals are designed to allow for reversibility to a theatre. The scheme will restore and secure the Hippodrome for the future. jo_brown
  • Score: 7

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