THE DREAM of live performance being back at the Brighton Hippodrome is alive and kicking following the sale of the historic theatre.

The long-held target of campaigners to bring the Grade-II listed theatre back to its prime has been revived by the freehold purchase of the Victorian venue by former leaseholders Academy Music Group.

The news comes as rich reward for diligent campaigners who will now be given an opportunity to make the business case for its revival as a theatre.

Our Brighton Hippodrome founder David Fisher said the announcement was “not the end of the line” for the campaign but “just the first milestone”.

It is a remarkable turnaround for campaigners who feared their dream was over when planning permission was granted for the Middle Street venue’s conversion into an £18 million cinema and restaurant complex last summer.

Nearby Duke’s Lane, part of which was set to be redeveloped in the cinema plans, has also been sold in a separate £20 million deal to “global leading” property services firm DTZ Investments.

The Argus can reveal the Academy Music Group, the UK’s leading owner and operator of nationwide live music venues including the O2 Academy Brixton and the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire purchased the freehold of the Hippodrome in April.

And we can exclusively reveal that over the next six months, the company will be working with campaigners and conservation groups on a jointly commissioned viability study to identify a future use for the former variety theatre.

A stakeholder group formed of AMG, The Theatres Trust, Brighton and Hove City Council, Historic England, Our Brighton Hippodrome, Brighton Hippodrome CIC, and the Frank Matcham Society will oversee the viability study.

David Fisher, on behalf of Our Brighton Hippodrome and Brighton Hippodrome CIC, said: “This is the moment we have been working towards for the past 18 months.

“We are pleased and excited that Academy Music Group is creating this opportunity.

“However, this is not the end of the line, just the first milestone.

“We shall now be working hard on the business proposition with our stakeholder partners.”

Brighton and Hove City Council leader Warren Morgan said: “BHCC is pleased to be working with stakeholders on identifying a way forward to secure the future of the Hippodrome.

“This is a very positive initiative and we are keen to see a use that complements our ambitions for the economic development of this area of the city centre.”

Mhora Samuel, director of The Theatres Trust, which has the venue as number one on its Theatre Buildings at Risk Register, said: “The group will be working together over the next six months to find a solution that will protect the historical and cultural significance of this Frank Matcham theatre and identify a beneficial viable use.”

Russell Duly, head of property at AMG, said: “The Theatres Trust and all other organisations who are involved in this steering committee have our full support to form a collaborative and experienced effort into this study.”