Campaigners fight plans to turn Brighton Hippodrome into a cinema and restaurant complex

Inside the Brighton Hippodrome

Halt cinema plans at old theatre, say Hippodrome campaigners

The panel, from left, Tim Foster, Tom Jaffe and David Fisher

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A LAST-gasp bid to save a historic theatre has been launched.

The Brighton Hippodrome is set to be turned into an eight-screen cinema and restaurant complex.

But campaigners have called on councillors to defer a decision on the former variety theatre for six months.

The Our Brighton Hippodrome group has also appealed to Government minister Eric Pickles to ‘call the decision in’ saying the venue is of national importance.

The campaigners want to see an alternative plan for a 1,500-seat theatre instead.

They argue a new venue would generate £1 million revenue a year – more than a cinema – and could be up and running within two or three years with a £15 million makeover.

The plan has the backing of the Ambassador Theatre Group, which runs the Theatre Royal, and said the two venues could operate “happily in harmony”.

The group said a renovated Hippodrome “meets their needs” and urged the council to give “serious consideration” to its revival as a live performance venue.

The city’s planning committee is being advised to grant a scheme submitted by Indigo Planning on behalf of Alaska Property Developments which would see the theatre in Middle Street become a Vue cinema with four restaurants.

But campaign leaders, including cinema expert David Fisher, Theatres Trust architect trustee Tim Foster and former councillor Tony Jaffe, said the report was misleading.

They queried figures claiming a theatre would not be viable and would lose £250,000 a year.

Planning documents suggest changes to the interior of the building would be “reversible”.

But campaigners say changes would be “irretrievable” and end the possibility of the theatre being used as a live performance venue. A petition to retain the Hippodrome as a live performance venue has attracted more than 12,000 signatures with support from actors Alan Ayckbourn, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Penelope Keith.

Mr Fisher, a former editor of Screen Magazine and a Government advisor on cinema, said the proposed restaurants were not needed when there were already 72 restaurants, 19 pubs and 13 cafés within a short walk of the Hippodrome.

He said cinema audiences were on the decline and a new complex would “cannibalise” audiences at the Odeon and Cineworld.

Mr Foster said the theatre was the most important at-risk theatre in the country and its unique design, originally a circus, made it a versatile venue able to host a variety of shows.

The planning committee will meet tomorrow at 2pm at Hove Town Hall to discuss the plans.

Comments (24)

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10:46am Tue 15 Jul 14

hotel pianist says...

noted
noted hotel pianist
  • Score: 0

10:49am Tue 15 Jul 14

hotel pianist says...

I cannot believe these people. living in a fairyland. I have looked at the plans of the developer and they actually PRESERVE the building. the screens are underground and in the old service yard. the main hippodrome is actually preserved. I tried to get in but it's unsafe and dangerous. And by the look of the images, the space under the dome will be totally suitable for live performance within the restaurant..... oh and by the way the Judi Dench who wrote a letter of support - is that the same Judi Dench who made all her money from the movie industry?
I cannot believe these people. living in a fairyland. I have looked at the plans of the developer and they actually PRESERVE the building. the screens are underground and in the old service yard. the main hippodrome is actually preserved. I tried to get in but it's unsafe and dangerous. And by the look of the images, the space under the dome will be totally suitable for live performance within the restaurant..... oh and by the way the Judi Dench who wrote a letter of support - is that the same Judi Dench who made all her money from the movie industry? hotel pianist
  • Score: -10

10:49am Tue 15 Jul 14

s_james says...

Where were the proposals to reopen as a theatre during the years the building has sat vacant, neglected and rotting?
Where were the proposals to reopen as a theatre during the years the building has sat vacant, neglected and rotting? s_james
  • Score: 3

11:34am Tue 15 Jul 14

TIMBURRY says...

Of the 1,200 who sign the petition how many turned up in support of a new theatre?
Of the 1,200 who sign the petition how many turned up in support of a new theatre? TIMBURRY
  • Score: -3

1:00pm Tue 15 Jul 14

J_Brightonandhove says...

I completely support this. It's nothing to do with living in a fairy tale land or whatever was quoted above.

Brighton is renowned for its architecture and vibrancy (look at Crawley to see what a dull place it is). Why on earth do we want to turn an incredible old building into a Cinema when a Cinema is already 200m away?!

It could become a fantastic music/comedy/theatre venue. It's not like we're short on restaurants and cafes in the area?!

The only way I'd support this being a cinema if it was an independent one, not a ghastly chain
I completely support this. It's nothing to do with living in a fairy tale land or whatever was quoted above. Brighton is renowned for its architecture and vibrancy (look at Crawley to see what a dull place it is). Why on earth do we want to turn an incredible old building into a Cinema when a Cinema is already 200m away?! It could become a fantastic music/comedy/theatre venue. It's not like we're short on restaurants and cafes in the area?! The only way I'd support this being a cinema if it was an independent one, not a ghastly chain J_Brightonandhove
  • Score: 21

1:15pm Tue 15 Jul 14

inmegarden says...

J_Brightonandhove wrote:
I completely support this. It's nothing to do with living in a fairy tale land or whatever was quoted above.

Brighton is renowned for its architecture and vibrancy (look at Crawley to see what a dull place it is). Why on earth do we want to turn an incredible old building into a Cinema when a Cinema is already 200m away?!

It could become a fantastic music/comedy/theatre venue. It's not like we're short on restaurants and cafes in the area?!

The only way I'd support this being a cinema if it was an independent one, not a ghastly chain
Hear Hear.
We have a perfectly good independent cinema in the Dukes'.
This proposal will serve up nothing more than trite Hollywood rubbish!
Refurbish the Hip (with its unique and beautiful interior) and the people will come...in their droves.
[quote][p][bold]J_Brightonandhove[/bold] wrote: I completely support this. It's nothing to do with living in a fairy tale land or whatever was quoted above. Brighton is renowned for its architecture and vibrancy (look at Crawley to see what a dull place it is). Why on earth do we want to turn an incredible old building into a Cinema when a Cinema is already 200m away?! It could become a fantastic music/comedy/theatre venue. It's not like we're short on restaurants and cafes in the area?! The only way I'd support this being a cinema if it was an independent one, not a ghastly chain[/p][/quote]Hear Hear. We have a perfectly good independent cinema in the Dukes'. This proposal will serve up nothing more than trite Hollywood rubbish! Refurbish the Hip (with its unique and beautiful interior) and the people will come...in their droves. inmegarden
  • Score: 18

1:57pm Tue 15 Jul 14

spa301 says...

I had no idea the inside was as impressive or large. What a wonderful building, how on earth has it been left derelict for so long? It deserves restoration as a theatre/music venue rather than a cinema.
There were funds available for the i360 and its dubiously confident estimates for visitors and profitabilty. Surely this would be a far greater 'restored' asset for Brighton during both Summer and Winter?
I had no idea the inside was as impressive or large. What a wonderful building, how on earth has it been left derelict for so long? It deserves restoration as a theatre/music venue rather than a cinema. There were funds available for the i360 and its dubiously confident estimates for visitors and profitabilty. Surely this would be a far greater 'restored' asset for Brighton during both Summer and Winter? spa301
  • Score: 33

2:28pm Tue 15 Jul 14

Valerie Paynter says...

Who owns it is what matters. Nobody has come along to buy it for a return to theatre use. Why is that?

This precious heritage asset crumbles more and more the longer it stays unused and unrestored.

Unless there is someone or a group of people with the money and will to restore it and run it as a theatre, what is gained REALLY in keeping it dark.
Who owns it is what matters. Nobody has come along to buy it for a return to theatre use. Why is that? This precious heritage asset crumbles more and more the longer it stays unused and unrestored. Unless there is someone or a group of people with the money and will to restore it and run it as a theatre, what is gained REALLY in keeping it dark. Valerie Paynter
  • Score: 8

3:05pm Tue 15 Jul 14

brighton bluenose says...

Do we REALLY need another eight cinemas in this town? The answer is a pretty obvious no!! The only problem I can see with retaining the Hippodrome as a theatre is that with revenues (as opposed to profit) of £1million a year the initial refurbishment costs of circa £15m would take forever to re-pay unless a large slice of that was funded by the National Lottery!
Do we REALLY need another eight cinemas in this town? The answer is a pretty obvious no!! The only problem I can see with retaining the Hippodrome as a theatre is that with revenues (as opposed to profit) of £1million a year the initial refurbishment costs of circa £15m would take forever to re-pay unless a large slice of that was funded by the National Lottery! brighton bluenose
  • Score: 11

3:18pm Tue 15 Jul 14

hoveguyactually says...

Brighton has the Odeon, Cineworld, Duke of Yorks and Komedia. What on earth do we need yet another cinema for? What is badly needed is a theatre for large scale entertainment, like the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne, and the Hippodrome, which used to stage those productions, would be perfect if restored. The Dome is totally unsuitable for anything but concerts and the Theatre Royal is too small. Perhaps the Argus should run one of its polls, to see what the people of Brighton and Hove actually want and need.
Brighton has the Odeon, Cineworld, Duke of Yorks and Komedia. What on earth do we need yet another cinema for? What is badly needed is a theatre for large scale entertainment, like the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne, and the Hippodrome, which used to stage those productions, would be perfect if restored. The Dome is totally unsuitable for anything but concerts and the Theatre Royal is too small. Perhaps the Argus should run one of its polls, to see what the people of Brighton and Hove actually want and need. hoveguyactually
  • Score: 15

4:08pm Tue 15 Jul 14

jyan says...

I recommend you read all the info about the proposal and the campaign to save it at http://ourhippodrome
.org.uk/
I recommend you read all the info about the proposal and the campaign to save it at http://ourhippodrome .org.uk/ jyan
  • Score: 1

4:14pm Tue 15 Jul 14

s_james says...

brighton bluenose wrote:
Do we REALLY need another eight cinemas in this town? The answer is a pretty obvious no!! The only problem I can see with retaining the Hippodrome as a theatre is that with revenues (as opposed to profit) of £1million a year the initial refurbishment costs of circa £15m would take forever to re-pay unless a large slice of that was funded by the National Lottery!
I’d be happy if this one forces the Odeon out of business then that terrible building on the seafront can be redeveloped into something far better
[quote][p][bold]brighton bluenose[/bold] wrote: Do we REALLY need another eight cinemas in this town? The answer is a pretty obvious no!! The only problem I can see with retaining the Hippodrome as a theatre is that with revenues (as opposed to profit) of £1million a year the initial refurbishment costs of circa £15m would take forever to re-pay unless a large slice of that was funded by the National Lottery![/p][/quote]I’d be happy if this one forces the Odeon out of business then that terrible building on the seafront can be redeveloped into something far better s_james
  • Score: 2

4:21pm Tue 15 Jul 14

jo_brown says...

We should get behind the application-it will restore and preserve the Hippodrome for future generations and is a deliverable deal on the table ready to go. Anything else, however desirable, is a pipe dream. Check out the planning application (BH04348) and look on www.brightonhippodro
me.co.uk for accurate information and ignore the blatant misinformation being bandied about town!
We should get behind the application-it will restore and preserve the Hippodrome for future generations and is a deliverable deal on the table ready to go. Anything else, however desirable, is a pipe dream. Check out the planning application (BH04348) and look on www.brightonhippodro me.co.uk for accurate information and ignore the blatant misinformation being bandied about town! jo_brown
  • Score: -1

4:31pm Tue 15 Jul 14

rolivan says...

How about an ice rink and include theatre productions also.
How about an ice rink and include theatre productions also. rolivan
  • Score: 2

5:28pm Tue 15 Jul 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Yes an ice rink. If you go into the existing cinemas in the week they are almost empty. They seem to make their money on jelly sweets and popcorn.
Yes an ice rink. If you go into the existing cinemas in the week they are almost empty. They seem to make their money on jelly sweets and popcorn. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: -2

5:29pm Tue 15 Jul 14

portugal35 says...

The Roundhouse,Camden,Lo
ndon Could be replicated at the Hippodrome,Brighton.
The Roundhouse,Camden,Lo ndon Could be replicated at the Hippodrome,Brighton. portugal35
  • Score: 3

6:24pm Tue 15 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

Derelict for 16 years, yet these people still need another six months?
Derelict for 16 years, yet these people still need another six months? stevo!!
  • Score: 4

6:38pm Tue 15 Jul 14

jo_brown says...

All these suggestions are wonderful., but who's got the £20 million?
Funny how it's only when something positive, viable and ready to go is put forward which will actually evolve the building into a new life.. All these well meaning people come out the woodwork and try to put a spanner in the works! Think West Pier and try to think outside the box. This is actually an amazing opportunity, not only for the Hippodrome but for the regeneration of the surrounding area as well, plus of course employment opportunities!
All these suggestions are wonderful., but who's got the £20 million? Funny how it's only when something positive, viable and ready to go is put forward which will actually evolve the building into a new life.. All these well meaning people come out the woodwork and try to put a spanner in the works! Think West Pier and try to think outside the box. This is actually an amazing opportunity, not only for the Hippodrome but for the regeneration of the surrounding area as well, plus of course employment opportunities! jo_brown
  • Score: 6

6:56pm Tue 15 Jul 14

downbythesea says...

Where does this Mr Fisher get his dubious facts from, "cinema audiences on the decline" when the British Film Institute for 2012 says AUDIENCES ROSE to the third highest figures in the last 40 YEARS at 172.5 million, with revenue topping £1 billion a year for the second year in succession!

It's a listed building, will be inspected at all stages to ensure it's listed status is not affected, and has NOT been a theatre since 1967.

Also it was originally designed as an ice rink (which failed after 2 years), not a theatre (which failed with the decline of local productions).

Isn't it strange you always get the theatre luvvies signing petitions when there are already lots of other theatres in Brighton, which in 20 years of living here I have never been to, but I have been to restaurants, shops, and local cinema many many many times in that period.

Time to use it for something that ordinary people want, that will actual pay for the upkeep of the building and provide JOBS for locals, and not pander to the whims of the artist crowd.

Failed as an ice rink
Failed as a theatre
Failed as a theatre / variety theatre

Time for something modern and new that respects the old.

Hope it gets permission, plans look very appropriate.
Where does this Mr Fisher get his dubious facts from, "cinema audiences on the decline" when the British Film Institute for 2012 says AUDIENCES ROSE to the third highest figures in the last 40 YEARS at 172.5 million, with revenue topping £1 billion a year for the second year in succession! It's a listed building, will be inspected at all stages to ensure it's listed status is not affected, and has NOT been a theatre since 1967. Also it was originally designed as an ice rink (which failed after 2 years), not a theatre (which failed with the decline of local productions). Isn't it strange you always get the theatre luvvies signing petitions when there are already lots of other theatres in Brighton, which in 20 years of living here I have never been to, but I have been to restaurants, shops, and local cinema many many many times in that period. Time to use it for something that ordinary people want, that will actual pay for the upkeep of the building and provide JOBS for locals, and not pander to the whims of the artist crowd. Failed as an ice rink Failed as a theatre Failed as a theatre / variety theatre Time for something modern and new that respects the old. Hope it gets permission, plans look very appropriate. downbythesea
  • Score: 2

7:15pm Tue 15 Jul 14

rolivan says...

jo_brown wrote:
All these suggestions are wonderful., but who's got the £20 million?
Funny how it's only when something positive, viable and ready to go is put forward which will actually evolve the building into a new life.. All these well meaning people come out the woodwork and try to put a spanner in the works! Think West Pier and try to think outside the box. This is actually an amazing opportunity, not only for the Hippodrome but for the regeneration of the surrounding area as well, plus of course employment opportunities!
The West Pier is just a shell of its former self. The majority of people do not want the Glorified lift that is going to replace it . However they would like an ice rink which would attract people from near and far.
[quote][p][bold]jo_brown[/bold] wrote: All these suggestions are wonderful., but who's got the £20 million? Funny how it's only when something positive, viable and ready to go is put forward which will actually evolve the building into a new life.. All these well meaning people come out the woodwork and try to put a spanner in the works! Think West Pier and try to think outside the box. This is actually an amazing opportunity, not only for the Hippodrome but for the regeneration of the surrounding area as well, plus of course employment opportunities![/p][/quote]The West Pier is just a shell of its former self. The majority of people do not want the Glorified lift that is going to replace it . However they would like an ice rink which would attract people from near and far. rolivan
  • Score: -5

7:24pm Tue 15 Jul 14

jo_brown says...

downbythesea wrote:
Where does this Mr Fisher get his dubious facts from, "cinema audiences on the decline" when the British Film Institute for 2012 says AUDIENCES ROSE to the third highest figures in the last 40 YEARS at 172.5 million, with revenue topping £1 billion a year for the second year in succession!

It's a listed building, will be inspected at all stages to ensure it's listed status is not affected, and has NOT been a theatre since 1967.

Also it was originally designed as an ice rink (which failed after 2 years), not a theatre (which failed with the decline of local productions).

Isn't it strange you always get the theatre luvvies signing petitions when there are already lots of other theatres in Brighton, which in 20 years of living here I have never been to, but I have been to restaurants, shops, and local cinema many many many times in that period.

Time to use it for something that ordinary people want, that will actual pay for the upkeep of the building and provide JOBS for locals, and not pander to the whims of the artist crowd.

Failed as an ice rink
Failed as a theatre
Failed as a theatre / variety theatre

Time for something modern and new that respects the old.

Hope it gets permission, plans look very appropriate.
Totally agree!
A REAL OPPORTUNITY.
[quote][p][bold]downbythesea[/bold] wrote: Where does this Mr Fisher get his dubious facts from, "cinema audiences on the decline" when the British Film Institute for 2012 says AUDIENCES ROSE to the third highest figures in the last 40 YEARS at 172.5 million, with revenue topping £1 billion a year for the second year in succession! It's a listed building, will be inspected at all stages to ensure it's listed status is not affected, and has NOT been a theatre since 1967. Also it was originally designed as an ice rink (which failed after 2 years), not a theatre (which failed with the decline of local productions). Isn't it strange you always get the theatre luvvies signing petitions when there are already lots of other theatres in Brighton, which in 20 years of living here I have never been to, but I have been to restaurants, shops, and local cinema many many many times in that period. Time to use it for something that ordinary people want, that will actual pay for the upkeep of the building and provide JOBS for locals, and not pander to the whims of the artist crowd. Failed as an ice rink Failed as a theatre Failed as a theatre / variety theatre Time for something modern and new that respects the old. Hope it gets permission, plans look very appropriate.[/p][/quote]Totally agree! A REAL OPPORTUNITY. jo_brown
  • Score: 4

7:45pm Tue 15 Jul 14

Valerie Paynter says...

BH2013/04348 is the planning number for Full Planning Consent. It attracted 130 objections. BH2013/04351 is the planning number for the compantion Listed Planning Consent and there are only 6 objections to giving Listed consent for these proposals to alter the historic integrity of this building.

The societies are listed separately with both the Hove Civic Society weighing in to support the cinema and the Regency Society also supporting the conversion. English Heritage has no problem with the proposals either (see Listed app report to cttee).

Have a look here at the Theatres Trust objection outline points from 5.7-5.10 and NB - there is a rival business plan which they support.
http://present.brigh
ton-hove.gov.uk/Publ
ished/C00000118/M000
05135/AI00041273/sca
nnedrosskeatleylasta
ndfinal2014070417015
0.pdf
BH2013/04348 is the planning number for Full Planning Consent. It attracted 130 objections. BH2013/04351 is the planning number for the compantion Listed Planning Consent and there are only 6 objections to giving Listed consent for these proposals to alter the historic integrity of this building. The societies are listed separately with both the Hove Civic Society weighing in to support the cinema and the Regency Society also supporting the conversion. English Heritage has no problem with the proposals either (see Listed app report to cttee). Have a look here at the Theatres Trust objection outline points from 5.7-5.10 and NB - there is a rival business plan which they support. http://present.brigh ton-hove.gov.uk/Publ ished/C00000118/M000 05135/AI00041273/sca nnedrosskeatleylasta ndfinal2014070417015 0.pdf Valerie Paynter
  • Score: -1

7:56pm Tue 15 Jul 14

jo_brown says...

Where is the rival business plan?
Where is the rival business plan? jo_brown
  • Score: 1

10:16pm Tue 15 Jul 14

From beer to uncertainty says...

Save it as a cinema and restaurants. Otherwise it will eventually end up being bulldozed followed by p1ss pot residential flats.

Make sure there's an ice-rink at the Saltdean Lido when the pool is closed during autumn and winter. Stop wrecking the Pavillion with the temporary ice rink rip off.

Lock up the loons who think the the i360 is anything other than a money losing 'get out of crap card' for those that know very well who they are...
Save it as a cinema and restaurants. Otherwise it will eventually end up being bulldozed followed by p1ss pot residential flats. Make sure there's an ice-rink at the Saltdean Lido when the pool is closed during autumn and winter. Stop wrecking the Pavillion with the temporary ice rink rip off. Lock up the loons who think the the i360 is anything other than a money losing 'get out of crap card' for those that know very well who they are... From beer to uncertainty
  • Score: 4

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