CAROLINE Lucas MP has said the proposed transformation of the Hippodrome into a luxury hotel would be a tragedy.

The Green MP for Brighton Pavilion said the venue in Middle Street , Brighton, could and should be central to the regeneration of the Old Town.

Last week The Argus revealed investor and property developer Aized Sheikh had bought the venue.

In a recent update to his LinkedIn social media profile, Mr Sheikh wrote: “We are pleased to announce the purchase of a [sic] iconic site in Brighton. For the development of a boutique 5 star 70 bed hotel, 25 high end serviced apartments and a concert, theater[sic], conference and banqueting venue.”

Mr Sheikh’s vision would end ongoing efforts to restore the Hippodrome to its former glory as a lyric theatre. Ms Lucas MP said: “Such a move would be a real tragedy, if it meant that it destroyed any hope of returning this amazing venue back to its former glory.

“If restored, the Hippodrome could be central to the regeneration of the Old Town area which has recently been listed as ‘at risk’ by Heritage Britain.The Hippodrome is still number one on the Theatres Trust’s list of Theatre Buildings at Risk (TBAR) for the fourth year running.

“With that in mind, I have been doing all that I can to support the ‘Save the Hippodrome’ campaign group in their efforts to re-open Frank Matcham’s magnificent auditorium.”

The grade II*-listed Hippodrome was originally built as an ice rink in 1897 and converted into a 1,400-seat variety theatre in 1902 by Frank Matcham.

The venue was used as a Lyric Theatre - meaning a theatre with the size and capacity for large scale scenery changes - for most of the twentieth century. Many famous acts have performed there including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Most recently it was used as a Mecca Bingo hall. The building was closed to the public in 2006. Ms Lucas has joined many others in calling for the Hippodrome to be protected.

Alan Robins, the chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s tourism and culture committee, said: “I’d hate to see it turned into a boutique hotel. I really wish I could imagine it as a theatre again but I don’t know if that’s realistic.”

Gavin Henderson, chairman of the Our Hippodrome CIC, described it as one of the most important theatres in the country.