PLANS to restore the derelict Hippodrome Theatre must be cautiously welcomed.

The newly-revealed plans are certainly ambitious and it is to be hoped they come to fruition.

The best news of all is that a fully-restored and functioning theatre is central to the scheme.

The city is quite rightly renowned for its thriving cultural scene and it would be great if the Hippodrome were to once again become central to that.

Of course, there has to be a way of financing that and therefore the plans are fairly grandiose in terms of ambition.

Included in the scheme are a 74-room boutique hotel, 26 apartments and a luxury spa, although the theatre will remain as the focal point.

There are those who have said it should only be a theatre, nothing more and those views are understandable, it is a beautiful building in need of sympathetic restoration.

But it is a commercial world we live in and no developer is going to undertake a project unless they believe there is going to be a significant return.

We are told that the plans, if approved, will provide the city with another theatre to be really proud of.

There are plenty of productions, both local and national, which could be staged there and apparently discussions with Brighton and Hove City Council have been positive so far.

Clearly there is still a long way to go but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

The chances are that it will come to fruition and surely that is far better than it remaining in its current state of disrepair?