PLANS to restore and develop a historic city centre theatre have been revealed.

The Hippodrome in Middle Street, Brighton, has been lying empty since 2007.

It was taken over by HIPP Investments last year after plans to convert it into a cinema fell through.

The owners have now released their designs for restoring the classic theatre, buildin a 74-room boutique hotel, 26 apartments and a luxury spa.

Aized Sheikh, chief executive of HIPP Investments, said: “I have always had interest in keeping the Hippodrome theatre as a theatre.

“The reason I bought it so quickly is because I know the importance of keeping theatres alive.

“I look forward to it being enjoyed by future generations. It’s an absolute gem of a venue and if something is not done soon about it it will just go into rack and ruin.”

The owners are in discussion with Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival regarding the renovation, refurbishment and future management of the theatre.

They have appointed theatre development specialist group ARUP to supervise the project and ensure appropriate choices for the historic site are made.

Mr Sheikh said: “I want it to be run by a great team and the profits of the theatre will go into restoring it and keeping it the way it should be.

“It will become a community asset. We have been working very closely with Brighton and Hove City Council who have been really positive about our plans.

“We now have a unique opportunity of putting Brighton back on the map for theatre with a beautiful historic space.”

David Fisher, director of Brighton Hippodrome Community Interest Company, said: “This beautiful building is on the list of theatres in the country that are most at risk.

“We believe that the city needs a huge theatre. Other places along the coast are better for theatrical presence. Brighton is going down the drain so we need to make sure we keep this space as a theatre.”

Two public consultation events will be held in mid-February, where full details of the plans will be revealed. Dates are to be confirmed.

Brighton Hippodrome was designed by renowned Architect Frank Matcham and built in 1897. It has played host to stars such as Harry Houdini, Laurel and Hardy, Max Miller, Gracie Fields, Dusty Springfield, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in its 121-year history.