HISTORIC Brighton Old Town is at risk of neglect and decay, according to a leading national conservation body.

Historic England has placed Brighton Old Town Conservation Area, which includes two of the city’s leading architectural gems in the Brighton Hippodrome and Middle Street Synagogue, on its at risk register.

The Brighton Old Town Conservation Area being deemed at risk covers the small medieval fishing town origins of Brighton between North Street, West Street, East Street and the beachfront and including grade II* listed Hippodrome and Middle Street Synagogue.

Historic England says an increasing weight of traffic in King's Road creates a barrier to the beachfront while the Conservation Area is affected by poorly designed and out-of-place shop fronts.

Former Hove MP Ivor Caplin, who had his bar mitzvah in Middle Street Synagogue, said the news should act as a “wake-up call”.

And the area - which includes The Lanes - has suffered a further blow with news that the Hippodrome CIC has been unsuccessful in a £3.6 million bid for government funding which will further delay its restoration.

The city council's economic development and culture committee agreed last month to develop an Old Town management plan that will identify buildings most in need of maintenance.

Mr Caplin said: “The synagogue is such a beautiful building inside so it is such a great pity that the exterior of Middle Street doesn’t actually meet its history and that is a serious concern.

“There have been some initial discussions with a number of heritage bodies about the long-term future of Middle Street Synagogue.

“This should be the wake-up call to get some real action going.”

Brighton Hippodrome CIC's David Fisher said he hoped the weekend pedestrianisation which has revitalised East Street could be introduced to Middle Street and added discussions had been held with Duke’s Lane landowners DTZ about improving the area.

Mr Fisher said: “I think the reasons behind the decline are because times change, for the Hippodrome first variety theatre and then bingo falling out of favour, for the synagogue it’s the move of much of the Jewish community to Hove.

“The Hippodrome’s frontage is some 60 metres and it is just dead, it is boarded up and makes the whole area rather dismal so restoring the theatre is absolutely crucial to the whole area.”

Mr Fisher was told by Coastal Community Fund organisers that the bid had failed on employment factors – despite the project aiming to create 100 jobs.

The knock back will add further delays to the ambitious restoration project, which could cost between £13 million and £30 million, although the CIC intend to bid again in April.